Most Saint Lucians were surrounded by family and friends on Christmas Day. They enjoyed opening gifts, sharing meals and entertaining house-to-house guests. By all accounts, Christmas 2017 was great. But by 9:52 pm on Monday December 25, all signs of Christmas merriment had ceased in Bois Den, Fond St Jacques. The scene was that of sheer horror; bringing an abrupt end to the festivities.
Thirty-year-old Randy Augustine had allegedly been badly beaten about his body by nineteen-year-old Lance St Brice of Delcer, Choiseul . At that point, the incident was treated as a case of battery; however, three days later Augustine was pronounced dead. A postmortem examination deemed his death a result of secondary injuries stemming from traumatic head injury, making it a case of murder. St Brice was charged by police on Sunday December 31 after apparently turning himself in upon learning of Augustine’s death. This pushed 2017’s murder toll up to an unsettling 57.
With most murders, the victim is almost always forgotten by the public once their loved ones have had their say in the media; typically including a proclamation that ‘he was a good boy’. Speculation on possible motives, court appearances and all things pertaining to the alleged perpetrator always overshadow the loss of life and the sadness associated with a premature death.
This case is no different. St Brice’s former classmates at the Choiseul Secondary School were in disbelief, and shared sentiments of shock. “I cah believe he do that,” said one classmate. “I thought he knew better than that,” proclaimed another. “You sure that’s what you hear?” said the next incredulously.
The questions were understandable. After all, who could know what St Brice was up to beyond school hours, yet alone in the years following graduation?
An ironic detail in this homicide is that a former teacher of the perpetrator was once the classmate of the victim. She, and the Soufriere Comprehensive Secondary School class of 2004 had this
to say: “Randy Augustine shared a classroom with 32 other students who he grew up with for five years at SCSS. Randy was a jovial character. He was also a talented cricketer in his school years. He shared a bond with his classmates who all still remember him and are saddened by his death.”
The sadness of his loved ones is understandable. The loss of any life is regrettable, let alone the heinous way in which Augustine’s was violently taken. However, while individuals who are personally touched by murder understand all too well the significance of the issue, the wider Saint Lucian society has become desensitized to it, in part due to the frequency of occurrences. The year’s murder rate ended at 60, with the bodies of two foreign nationals discovered in Bruceville, Vieux Fort. We can only hope that citizens recognize the far-reaching impact of any criminal activity before they set the destructive wheels in motion. Saint Lucia’s reputation will easily be irrevocably tarnished if this continues, and we simply cannot afford the repercussions.