Constables Adrewain Smith, Durvin Hayles and Anna-Kaye Bailey who were convicted for manslaughter in relation to the shooting death of a schoolgirl, Vanessa Kirkland, in 2012 have each been sentenced to 14-years and 6 months in prison.
Shock reverberated across the room following the ruling by Presiding Judge Justice Carol Lawrence-Beswick this afternoon in the Supreme Court.
Family members, Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s high command and the Mobile Reserve wept openly.
Justice Carol Lawrence-Beswick’s ruling followed a robust submission from the Prosecution challenging arguments that were made by the defence last week seeking bail for the offenders pending an appeal.
Stevian Simmonds reports.
The Prosecution argued this afternoon that for a Judge to consider bail, a sentence must first be handed down.
The Prosecution said the submission by the defence to grant bail pending an appeal was inappropriate, improper and premature.
The Prosecution cited that the defence chose to take on a point that was not only novel but dangerous.
Justice Lawrence-Beswick after hearing all the submissions, rose for about 20 minutes before returning with her ruling.
She told the court she didn’t have the Jurisdiction to grant bail pending an appeal.
She told the court the process was in the hands of the Appeal Court.
The Presiding Judge says her duty was to finish the sentencing proceedings.
Several aggravating and mitigating factors were considered in her ruling.
She says as mitigating factors that each offender displayed the ability to contribute to society based on their educational background.
Each has shown good character with no previous convictions, sterling character references and good community reports.
They also all showed remorse.
She was also mindful of the length of time the offenders already spent in custody.
All three have been in custody for 6 months.
However for the aggravating factors she told the Court the offenders used a firearm to cause the unlawful death of an innocent person.
She says offenders were all trained to work as officers, a young life has been snuffed out and the victim’s family has suffered.
She says Kirkland’s mother has said she developed hypertension following the killing of her daughter and the school girl’s father suffered a stroke and died one month later after his child’s killing.
Justice Lawrence-Beswick stressed that while she was asked to consider the sentencing guidelines starting point of 5 years for manslaughter, when it’s compared to other offences where there wasn’t a loss of life, the starting point would be inadequate.
She cited several offences to include rape and lottery scamming where the starting point wasn’t 5-years.
Based on this reasoning she ruled that each offender be sentenced to 14 years and 6 months.
Meanwhile, family members could not hold back tears in the Precincts of the Supreme Court this afternoon.
Those who wept openly were supported by others as they huddled together in smaller groups obviously shaken.
The offenders in the dock also wept and were in disbelief.
They were all taken away minutes later in handcuffs.