Fess up. You’ve been waiting all year for this. Well, at least we know we have! As is customary this time of year, we’ve rounded up some of the best and worst memories of 2017, some of which we’re more than happy to say good riddance to as we usher in a new year. So, grab a snack and get comfortable, and let’s take a trip down memory lane!
New Ombudsman Announced
Former House Speaker Rosemary Husbands Mathurin took the oath of office for the role of Parliamentary Commissioner on January 31, 2017. A former educator, she served as Speaker from 2006-2011 when she was replaced by Mr. Peter Foster QC. Mrs. Husbands-Mathurin is the sister of St Kitts-Nevis based Justice Lorraine Williams, herself a former magistrate and attorney general.
Double Homicide in La Clery
In one of the more gruesome incidents of the year, two individuals were found dead in their home in La Clery on February 1, 2017. According to police reports, the bodies of 26-year-old Jeffery Cashim Abella and 29-year-old Sandrina Joseph were discovered at Sandrina’s residence with multiple injuries about their bodies. Shortly after the incident, 28-year-old Don Pierre-Louis of Chase Gardens Castries was formally charged for their murders.
Founders of Du Boulay’s Win Lifetime Achievement Award
The coveted Lifetime Achievement Award presented by members of the Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, at this year’s Business Awards went to the founders of Du Boulay’s Bottling Company Limited: Dunstan and Tony Du Boulay. The annual award is presented to a person who has demonstrated dedication, perseverance, resilience and a high commitment to the development of Saint Lucia. The award was graciously accepted by the recipients, to resounding applause.
Walcott Passes Away
Saint Lucia said good-bye to Nobel laureate Derek Walcott. Tributes came flowing in for the Saint Lucian literary and theatre icon who passed away at his home in Cap Estate surrounded by loved ones early morning on Friday, March 17. His loss triggered a chain reaction of newspaper tributes regionally and internationally.
Royalton Saint Lucia Opens
With much fanfare, Royalton Saint Lucia opened its doors to guests. It cost US$250 million to bring the hotel to full operation. The grand opening attracted the attendance of the island’s prime minister Mr. Allen Chastanet, the Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, and other members of government. Also represented was Sunwing Travel. The Group CEO, Steven Hunter let it be known that the company’s expectations were to make a $60 million impact in the first year, and to invest in Saint Lucia holistically.
Deadly Privacy Concerns
A 31-year-old Ciceron woman was stabbed to death by her common law husband in circumstances, according to eyewitnesses, that had to do with receiving a birthday text message. The woman, Sophia Edwards, was fatally wounded on her birthday, shortly after receiving a text message, according to residents of Ciceron. On Tuesday March 9, Peter Donovan was charged with non-capital murder in connection with the incident.
Three workers lost their lives in the immediate aftermath of an explosion at the Rayneau Construction Quarry. One more person died days later, while several others continue to nurse life-changing injuries. A Trinidad national was featured in the STAR newspaper shortly after the incident, speaking of his injuries and the lack of care and assistance from the company. Company representatives offered very little information to the media until months after the incident, leaving government representatives to make statements, and to fly some of the casualties over to nearby Martinique for treatment. The case continues to be hush-hush. The promised report by the National Security Minister Mr. Hermangild Francis has not materialized.
Winston Trim Dies in Motorcycle Crash
Known as an equine aficionado, 50-year-old Winston Trim died in March as a result of a motor vehicle collision. He had been riding his motorcycle southbound, when he collided with a minibus. His death shocked many, and he was memorialized by Desert Star Holdings (DSH) Chairman Teo Ah Khing during a presentation in Saint Lucia for his contribution to the equine industry. Meanwhile the DSH representative unveiled plans for the project in the south of Saint Lucia that included a horse-racing track.
A 25-year-old man who attempted an armed robbery at a shop in Cacao, Babonneau on April 16 was beaten bloody by members of the community. Shortly after making off with a sum of money, the man was caught and confronted by residents who beat and stripped him of his clothes, and watched over him until the police arrived. After receiving medical attention at Victoria Hospital, he was charged for the offence of robbery.
Double Road Fatality
Two students of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, 18-year-old Zhané Williams and 19-year-old Zina Anthony, died tragically in a car crash on April 29. Their deaths dealt an unexpected blow to the student population, and to Saint Lucia at large. The students were remembered along with two other students who passed away, during the school’s graduation ceremony on December 3, 2017.
In Grande Style
Tranquility soaking tub for two, over the water hammock, sun deck with swim-up platform, and everything you need to be convinced you’re in absolute heaven. Sandals Over the Water Bungalows were the talk of the town. Star Publishing Managing Director Mae Wayne experienced the best the Bungalows had to offer and wrote a glowing review which was published in the STAR. If that wasn’t enough big news for Sandals, the all-inclusive resort chain made the announcement that it would be building a fourth resort in Saint Lucia – the all-suite Sandals La Source in St Lucia. Although an official opening date has not been announced, the 330-suite property is expected to be located near the Sandals Grande property on Pigeon Island.
Soleil Kicks Off
Jazz truly is freedom and music intertwined, and the first event on the Soleil calendar for 2017, the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, proved just that. What was clear after this year’s festivities, is that sometimes the thought of change results in thousands of people protesting against a cause (as was seen in the several demonstrations held in Saint Lucia this year as a result of issues ranging from DSH to the proposed dolphin park) while, at other times, it leads to pure musical and cultural serenity. The only way to go for Soleil in 2018 is up!
STAR Selects Essay Winners
Judging the 2017 STAR Essay competition was one of the more difficult things the STAR team had to do this year. We received many essays from talented students all over the island and had to select three winners. Our choices were: 17-year-old Omar Combie, 13-year-old Ariel Albert and 15-year-old Khadijah Halliday. Khadijah was named overall winner. Notably, a significant number of the students wrote about the need for vocational education, and the implementation of a more all-embracing system where no student is left behind. We support the idea 100 per cent, and thank all the participants for taking the time to enter our competition. Be sure to read the winning essays contained within our Year in Review on page 15.
When an alleged torture video started circulating of a young, presumably Saint Lucian man who was reportedly kidnapped in Venezuela, many people waited with baited breath to find out about the validity of the viral video. Days later, more troubling videos surfaced. Saint Lucia’s police commissioner spoke on the incident but could not make any determination on whether the videos were authentic. Since then, no official statements have been made about the matter.
Carnival Queen Crowned
July is nothing if not the month of bacchanal, and this year carnival took off in grand fashion, newly branded by Soleil. One of the highlights of the month-long calendar of events was the National Carnival Queen Show which saw a new contestant being crowned Queen of Saint Lucia’s Carnival. The 2017 winner was 18-year-old Chancy Fontenelle, Miss HTS/Radio 100.
Police investigated the circumstances surrounding a fatal accident which occurred on Thursday, August 31, 2017 at about 3:00 a.m. at Marisule, Gros Islet. The incident involved one motor vehicle, a grey Nissan X-Trail, which was travelling southbound from Gros Islet towards Castries. Initial reports indicated that the vehicle veered off the road and subsequently caught ablaze. Of the two occupants, the driver sustained minor injuries and was transported to the Victoria Hospital. Leysel Charlery Deterville, a 27-year-old resident of Bishop’s Gap, Castries, the front seat passenger, was trapped beneath the flaming motor vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene by a medical practitioner. The incident brought the number of road fatalities for the year to 11.
Double homicide in La Clery
On September 9, 2017, two individuals, who were the riders of separate scooters, sustained multiple gunshot wounds, en route from Gros Islet to Castries after they were allegedly accosted by unknown individuals with firearms. The assailants were reportedly the occupants of a motor vehicle also travelling along the highway at the time. The two victims were identified as 21-year-old Shane Augustin and 28-year-old David Khodra. Both men resided in Leslie-Land, Castries. They were conveyed to the Victoria Hospital where they were pronounced dead by medical practitioners.
Triple Homicide in Vieux Fort
Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, reports came flooding in of yet another bloody incident. Three men were fatally shot in a house in Bruceville in October 2017. A female who was also in the house was reportedly unharmed. The victims were TiRocher Micoud resident Norbert Allan, Bruceville native David Raymond, and Christopher Henry from Babonneau.
September – November
These months saw a rise in people speaking out about suicide and depression, and, although there were casualties, hopefully there were more lives saved by people reaching out to one another, and remembering the power of human connections.
Saadia Byron Murder
The search for missing Laborie resident Saadia Byron came to a tragic end when her partially nude body was discovered not far from her home in Laborie. The 33-year-old woman had been reported missing days earlier by her family and, upon discovering her body on November 11, suspicions of rape were immediately raised. Two individuals were initially taken into custody in relation to the incident, and later released. A post mortem suggested that Saadia had been beaten to death but results concerning rape were inconclusive due to a lack of forensic testing.
After a much anticipated crime symposium held on Friday, November 24, 2017, Minister of Home Affairs, Justice and National Security, Hermangild Francis guaranteed that whatever useful recommendations emanated from the undertaking would be reviewed and considered and then classified as short- or long-term implementations. After countless promises during and after the event that recommendations from the symposium would not be shelved, we await an announcement from National Security Minister Hermangild Francis on the way forward!
Grynberg in Parliament Again
In his address to the House of Parliament in November, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet made mention of the Grynberg oil affair. That particular session of Parliament on November 5 will go down in history, as it marks the first time a prime minister has addressed the ongoing Grynberg matter in the House. Notably, former leader of the Opposition Dr. Kenny Anthony was absent from Parliament that day. Opposition member Ernest Hilaire later responded to the prime minister’s statement in a published interview with the STAR.
Unemployment Figures Down
As told in November by Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee, things were looking good in the employment department for Saint Lucia towards the end of the year. The minister made the announcement just days after 700 students graduated from the Sir Authur Lewis Community College; they and other graduates from local institutions flooded the job market.
Festival of Lights
With an EC$310,000 donation from the government of Taiwan, the Festival of Lights was an event to watch long before the lights came on. There were questions galore on whether the government truly intended to spend such a large sum of money on holiday lights, which Culture Minister Fortuna Belrose quickly addressed. The event itself proved to be one worth attending, with a spectacular light show illuminating the Castries Library and nearby buildings, local talent sharing large doses of Christmas spirit with the audience, and a memorable fireworks display.
Call it what you may but demonstrators were out in full force on several occasions in 2017, standing up against happenings considered controversial, including the DSH project, the proposed dolphin park, unemployment, and generally anything worth making noise about. What has the result been since then? Only time will tell!
Crime figures continue to climb. On Wednesday, December 20, a young man known as Neil “Chaddy” Brice, alias ‘Warbeck’, was reportedly shot execution style in the area of Maynard Hill /Pavee, Castries. Long before his death, 2017 had already secured a new record for the most homicides committed in a single year. Hopefully, things will take a turn for the better in 2018!