Sixty-three-year-old Meryl “Tula” Chiddick has been ordered jailed for 42 years for murdering a farmer, Conroy “Laro” Andrew, on his property back in 2014.
Justice Iain Morley handed down the decision yesterday afternoon, stating that this will likely mean Chiddick would not be eligible for remission before he is 89, “making it a distinct possibility he will die in jail.”
The judge said the time spent on remand shall be counted as part of the sentence. Chiddick has been behind bars since his arrest in 2016.
Back at the trial last year, the star witness, Aundrey “Guttersnipe” Joseph, who was also accused of murder but pleaded guilty to murder and turned crown witness, said he followed Chiddick on a bus to Swetes village and was told they were going “on a move” which led them to the victim’s farm.
Joseph said he stayed some distance behind, as instructed by Chiddick who went ahead. Then he heard a single gunshot.
Several shots subsequently rang out and Chiddick returned and told him he had shot the man.
They went back to the scene and Joseph said he remained silent after they left because Chiddick threatened to kill him if he told anyone.
Justice Morley noted Chiddick shot Andrew through the left side of his head with an old 0.25 pistol from 19ft, killing him instantly.
At the time of the incident, he, Chiddick, was intruding on Andrew’s farm to steal cannabis and had been confronted by him.
Chiddick had recruited Joseph, who was 18 at the time with a learning difficulty, to look for farms to steal cannabis that day, November 10, 2014.
Another farmer who saw Chiddick and Joseph approaching Andrew’s farm, called and alerted the man to that fact, identifying Chiddick specifically since he was well known to him.
It was not until two years later that the police learned exactly what happened.
It was Joseph who confessed, stating, “Me see Tula pull the gun and the rastaman come at us with a long cutlass. The rastaman was at his little bush house on the hill and the rastaman say ‘who that’, and then me see Tula tie a wash rag around his beard and one around his face from his nose down.”
“Tula walk up to the man, tell the man to back off, and Tula bust ah shot in the air, and the man keep coming, and Tula fire ah shot again, and then me see the man drop ah ground and start to roll. Me ask he if he kill the man and he say yea, yea, come, come,” he said.
The criminals then left the farm and went to another, but they did not execute the original plan to steal because Chiddick said he was out of ammunition and couldn’t protect them if confronted.
Andrew’s family who knew Chiddick, immediately identified him as a suspect because he had threatened to shoot their loved one before.
He was arrested the day after the incident but made no admissions, and was released owing to lack of evidence. Joseph was again threatened to remain silent and the case went cold.
A year later, Chiddick’s neighbour, Tevin Willock, who was chasing after a chicken in Green Bay, found himself under a property previously owned by Chiddick. There he found a pistol and took it.
Chiddick later confronted him about the weapon but he denied having it, and a year later, the neighbour discharged the weapon, drawing the attention of the police. Willock was arrested.
Ballistic analysis revealed that the bullet taken from Joseph’s body had come from the same gun the neighbour, Willock, had discharged.
Willock told the police where he got the gun and Chiddick was arrested in 2016 and so was Joseph who confessed only after being encouraged by a relative.
Joseph is due to be sentenced in May this year. He was granted bail ever since his guilty plea but recently found himself before the court again and was remanded by a magistrate. However, bail was again granted by the High Court due to concerns for his safety considering Chiddick is also at Her Majesty’s Prison, the country’s lone penal facility.