The recent double homicide in La Clery touched a raw nerve nationwide. Especially affected were people who lived close to the crime and were familiar with the butchered victims and their suddenly orphaned children. One individual, a bus driver caught in the whirlwind of emotions that followed the nightmarish discovery by the young boy and girl, shared with me this week his own story. I had encountered him quite by accident as I headed back to my office following a press conference. He was pulling out of a gas station near Hewanorra House, close to Pointe Seraphine.
I flagged him down and asked whether he was headed back to town. He said he first had to make a stop at La Clery. I decided to tag along, anyway. Just this week a young man was killed while crossing the bridge by Serenity Park, just 100 yards from where I was, so I wasn’t about to take any chances!
Straightaway we started talking about crime and the La Clery murders, partly because we were on our way to the community, and also because neither of us could get out of our heads the reported heart-wrenching screams of the murdered couple’s children upon discovering their parents’ stabbed and bloody corpses.
My driver revealed that he’d been through similar circumstances. When he was still very young he had lost both of his parents and had been forced to make it through life on his own. He was just a year old when his mother died from complications after she suffered serious burns in an accident. His father, a taxi driver, was murdered years later while on the job; a passenger had robbed him of his money and his life. The killer received a life sentence but was released, after serving 30 years, for good behaviour.
The former convict had gone back to cutting grass and doing odd jobs for a living. But it wasn’t long before he struck again. This time his victim was a woman, a non-national who had hired him as a handyman. All clues pointed to him and soon he was in police custody. This time he paid with his own life. He received the death penalty.
To my amazement my driver said: “I don’t believe he did it. Not to this day. He killed my father but I really do not believe that man would have done something like that again.”
While many may have long forgotten the particular murder and the price paid, my driver assured me it was something that would stay with him for life.
“I’ve never seen a man hanged that quickly,” he said. “If the woman who died had been Saint Lucian, the case would not have ended as quickly.”
For years there has been little talk about the death penalty. But it came up recently in relation to the still unresolved death three years ago of hotelier Oliver Gobat. The UK government has expressed concern that the death penalty remains on our statute books, despite that no one has been sentenced to death in a long time. It has come to light that the UK government refused to assist in the investigation of the Gobat homicide while the death penalty remained on our law books. Meanwhile violent crime in our region is on the rise, particularly in Trinidad and in Saint Lucia. Might the death penalty be the answer? As for me, it is my fervent hope that in the latest case justice will be done – and that includes justice for the children who lost their parents this week. It won’t be easy erasing from their minds the worst nightmare imaginable!