Community under siege: Is justice minister to blame?

Philip La Corbiniere: If the former AG and current  Justice Minister cannot find solutions, shouldn’t  someone more competent be in his position?

Philip La Corbiniere: If the former AG and current
Justice Minister cannot find solutions, shouldn’t
someone more competent be in his position?

The last thing Eldon Simon, aka Kay-Lay-Lay, had on his mind when he arrived home from work in the early hours of Thursday April 24, was death—least of all, his own. Having worked the night shift as a security guard, he could hardly wait to get some much-needed sleep in advance of his day in court. He truly believed justice would finally be served him.

Simon never made it to court. Just hours before he planned to set off from his Bois Patat home for the Castries courthouse, only several minutes’ walking distance, 46-year-old Eldon Simon was dead.

Neighbours later claimed they had heard two gunshots. One reported seeing a lone masked assailant casually walking away from the scene of the crime. “He never ran,” the eyewitness said. “He just took his time walking past a garbage truck that was making morning collections.”

This brings to 12 the number of homicides for the year—four of them victims from Bois Patat and nearby Morne Du Don. Just two weeks ago a body was discovered in the Gros Islet area. Again the 22-year-old deceased had been a Morne Du Don resident.

Seven months earlier, while Simon was sitting at his doorstep, someone took a shot at him. Simon survived. The matter that in all likelihood would’ve been adjourned as have so many in the last several years, had been scheduled for a court hearing the very morning Simon took his final breath.

Marvin Gabriel had surrendered to the police soon after the doorstep shooting. He was charged with attempted murder, released and re-arrested with other suspects in a number of other cases, including the attempted murder of Kervin Anatole, shot in the head four months ago at Bois Patat.

Gabriel was also charged with a January shooting at New Village, Castries. His rap sheet featured several robberies and assaults.

Gabriel was reportedly at odds with Eldon Simon over a woman. But Bois Patat residents say Simon, who had recently become a father, had lately been trying desperately to stay out of trouble.

“He recently got a job as a security guard and was really trying to focus on providing for his child and girlfriend,” according to a neighbor.

Now residents are turning their attention to the justice system they say should have offered Simon protection, knowing full well he was being terrorized. They now want to restore their community’s former “good name,” which they say has been making headlines “for all the wrong reasons.”

One resident confirmed a gang feud involving young men from Morne Du Don and Bois Patat. Said another, the feud had escalated following a scooter deal that turned sour.

“But it is really turf that these guys are fighting for,” our source assured The STAR. “Drugs sometimes come into play, if one side’s stash gets stolen. But what’s been going on is more of a turf war.”

The majority agreed the main culprit is what pretends to be our justice system. They cite a particular incident over a year ago, when one young Bois Patat man was accused of theft. Even though the victim has since dropped the case, our source observed, the suspect still has not appeared in court and remains behind bars.

“The justice system is really hurting us,” said The STAR source. “Right now, these guys don’t want to go to the police when something happens because they know the case will drag on and on. Meanwhile, witnesses are afforded no protection whatsoever and are like sitting ducks waiting to be shot down. Thursday’s incident further underscores the need for a witness-protection program. We feel what passes here for a justice system is helpful only to the killers among us!”

Just last year a young witness was shot dead at Hospital Road days after he complained publicly about attempts on his life by individuals due to appear in court for attempting to murder him.

Recently the government acknowledged over 400 killings remained unresolved. Several individuals have been incarcerated for over eight years, without a trial date. Although allowed bail last year, the suspect in the famous Verlinda Joseph rape-murder had been languishing at Bordelais for close to eleven years. When he was set free, thanks to an undisclosed overseas charity that paid his bail, the grossly neglected DPP’s office announced he would’ve face trial last September.

That promise has not yet materialized. Controversy continues to surround Saint Lucia’s dysfunctional multi-million-dollar crime lab. More and more citizens are feeling unsafe, even in their homes—especially with the police grossly under-funded, undermanned and under-equipped. Meanwhile police morale diminishes daily. The country’s only security force is no longer a recipient under the arrangements of the Leahy Law, a situation that is the result of alleged violations of human rights, including extra-judicial executions, currently under investigation by Caricom’s IMPACS. A related report that the government promised would be in the prime minister’s hands in February has still not materialized, inexplicably.

Meantime Bois Patat residents have not yet given up all hope. Through their youth and sports club, they are still talking about taking back their community. They have been holding discussions centered on rehabilitation programs for some of their young citizens currently incarcerated at Bordelais.

“This is geared toward helping them reintegrate into the community when they are released,” a community member told The STAR. They have also been working at beautifying their area and are offering after-school programs to younger Bois Patat residents. Still, it is a long hard road. What with so many bloodstains all over their community, a few minutes walking distance from the city, many residents believe they’re building on shifting sands. The latest Bois Patat incident serves only to strengthen the belief that when it comes to justice in Saint Lucia, it’s every man for himself.

Small wonder that many are demanding action from the government, beginning with the dismissal of Justice Minister Philip La Corbiniere—whose main concern appears to be the press. Recently he threatened to sue a local talk show host whom he said had unfairly criticized him.

At time of writing, relatives of Winston Brown, whose body was discovered in a deep-freeze several months ago, are in the process of organizing protest demonstrations against what they describe as a “don’t-care-attitude by the authorities in the face of mounting violent crime.”

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12 Responses to Community under siege: Is justice minister to blame?

  1. Fer De Lance says:

    Why you would put such an important portfolio in the hands of the last Cro-Magnon man, he is a special lost link, a creature used to living in caves and only just discovered fire. No, this job requires an expert in crime investigations, at least a modern man.

  2. Soaps …I hear bobolink involve………Lucian’s suspect………plus ex employee in jail…….look tings happening in iyanola……..now about independent st Lucia……..are we there yet……….thank you daddy Compton…..we run tings ……..st Lucia nice…….these things happen every where…….better yet the world ending soon…….bunch of id ten tee politicians………choops

  3. No Birtish Ties? American ? NO ! (strike 1) No Range Rover ? Not even an Old Nissan Pick Up like Compton use to drive ? In the words of Bob Marley “my feet is my carriage” you say. Where you live Bois Patat; Oh hell no. (strike 2) What is your last name ? Are you related to the prime minister or any heads of goverment on either sides of the fence ?? NO ! Do you know Rick Wayne or Toni (with a pinky) Mack Daddy Nicholas (strike 3) Well Pal dog eat your super, may the force be with you.

  4. MKaks says:

    St.lucians need to start seeing past RED and YELLOW and call it for what it is, have those politrickcians stop running to the media and lying to the whole nation. Call them out, not because you want to be mean or disrespectful but because you care about your DAMM country.

  5. MKaks says:

    Those politicians sound like a spouse caught cheating just making a whole set of excuses after excuses. Had it not been for the US withdrawing aid from the police force it would have been business as usual for them. The thing that really hurts me is how incompetent those ridiculous police are and attempt to make up for it by being bullies with guns. When I see a politician who can stand up to the police force and make it their duty to put them in line, then tackle the so called court systems and then that big elephant they built called the forensic lab that serves no more than decorative purposes on the piece of property it occupies then and only then I will say they are serious about the…

  6. MKaks says:

    St.lucia is yet to have a government that is serious on tackling the crime problem. Truth be told those governments themselves have encouraged crime and for the most part have aided it to reach the level it is today. Firstly you have a police department that has been left to run wild for years, police officers involved in all types of possible criminal activities with no consequences. Secondly you have a justice system that may God bless your soul if you have the wrong last name and your family has no wealth will rot at Bordelais while the so called DPP and her crew forget all about you.

  7. Pavan Gavaskar says:

    into facilities where they belong? On my trips home, I have come across several cases where the mentally ill are haranguing visitors. Their behavior is not funny.

    Once upon a time SLU was blessed with great leadership. Talented men in both major parties. The place was clean, there was order and it was very safe. I am not sure what happened along the way.

  8. Pavan Gavaskar says:

    criminals and concealed knives criminals; thus creating a deterrence and removing them from society so they would emerge older, matured and slower. Essentially, giving the public a respite and making it safer for visitors (the business at hand). There are numerous options that are available, instead, we are faced with oblique laws such as the anti-gang legislation. Here in the U.S. with all of its surveillance tools, the government generally finds it very difficult to prove a person is a member of a gang. What are St. Lucia’s chances? Someone has definitely been reading too many Marvel comic books.
    By the way, when is someone going to place those mentally ill people who roam the streets…

  9. Pavan Gavaskar says:

    This stage of the crime wave was bound to occur. It is the product of poor insight mixed with a laissez- faire attitude. For several years (and still is), violent gun criminals were allowed back into society after they paid their $3000 court administered fine. With such little deterrence, it did not take long for them to gather packs of followers. Over the ensuing years, the gun criminals improved their game to lessen possibilities of detection. In some blatant cases they killed or intimidated eyewitnesses.

    It is apparent that no one in authority suspects he is living on a “tourist island.” The first obvious step could have been legislating mandatory very long sentences for gun criminals…

  10. All I can do is remind us Lucian’s…. Paul Hamilton maturing…..Patrick David Winston…….let us stand for justice…..murder is murder …..if we allow terry James or the fig massacre…..who is next…….tick tock

  11. Gun crimes should get min 5 years…….our laws need revision……please mr Kenny law professor……seriously…….the state of crime the aabuse of existing laws…..that’s enough to bring down any government…..except……stlucia nice…..

  12. Fer De Lance says:

    Keeping marijuana illegal escalates it’s value as a black market product much like alcohol prohibition did in the United States, and this is a cause of violent gang crime. Time to decriminalize weed.

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