Son guilty of murdering mother sentenced!

Andrew Keagan Richardson, 33, has been sentenced to nine years imprisonment at Bordelais for the 2009 murder of his mother 60-year-old Dr Trona Bennett.  Justice Kenneth Benjamin handed down Richardson’s sentence in the criminal high court on Wednesday July 13.

Given the time Richardson has already spent on remand, the sentence was discounted to six and a half years.  During his time at the correctional facility, it has been ordered that he undergo psychiatric treatment (medication and therapy) and be assessed every three months with full annual reports to be prepared in July by the attending psychiatrist.  If Richardson is deemed to be fit to return to society before the end of his term, he will be released.

Bennett, a Trinidadian-born gynecologist, was found dead at her house in Trouya, Gros Islet on January 13, 2009 around 12:30pm.  Richardson lived with his father at Bonne Terre.  However, the day before Bennett’s death, Richardson and his father were involved in an altercation resulting in police being called. They later transported him to his mother’s house.

On January 13, Bennett failed to report for work.  Around noon a colleague received information and contacted the police. On their way to her house, the police encountered her son walking along the road, just in front the entrance to the gates.  The police noted Richardson had what appeared to be blood on the right side of his shirt and dripping from his right thumb.  He told police he had just left Windjammer.  They asked him to accompany them to his mother’s house.
Police entered the locked house through a small window and discovered Bennett’s lifeless body was on the floor.  Footage from Bennett’s home security system was recovered and analyzed.

Richardson was seen having a scuffle with his mother. The footage revealed him dragging a human body from the side of the house to the front.  He was seen walking up and down the stairs, getting a garden hose and washing down the steps on the side and front of the house.

An autopsy on January 15 revealed Bennett had a brown rope tied around her neck and injuries to her face, hands and legs. She also had multiple blunt force trauma injuries to her head.  Pathologist Dr Stephen King confirmed she died of asphyxia due to strangulation.

Samples from the scene were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory in London.  The results concluded Richardson’s DNA was found on Bennett, the steps of the house and the retaining wall.  His DNA was also present in the house on a sneaker, bag, stick and cutlass.  Bennett’s DNA was found on Richardson’s clothes and on a blood-stained flowerpot outside the house.

On January 19, 2009 Richardson was formally charged with murder in the presence of his attorney Shawn Innocent.  He pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility on February 2, 2011.

The defense relied on the reports of two psychiatrists to justify their plea.  On June 6, the doctors came in to testify as to their findings. The court accepted the plea and on June 9, Innocent made submissions to the court which in essence stated there are no facilities on island capable to house Richardson where he can receive appropriate treatment.  Innocent stated island’s lone mental institution, the Wellness Center, and Bordelais’ medical ward have severe limitations in meeting psychiatric care. The defense proposed private treatment.

Justice Kenneth Benjamin, while acknowledging the facilities’ shortcomings, noted that private treatment cannot be at the expense of the state.

The defense pushed for rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration and although Director of Public Prosecutions Victoria Charles-Clarke agreed, she says Richardson needs to be punished for his actions because though he is not fully culpable, he is responsible.  She proposed he should be sentenced for a fixed term and during that term he can receive treatment.

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