Outrage over release of killers et al from prison

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Relatives of victims whose killers were released on Thursday and Friday last week without serving their full sentences, have condemned the attorney general’s decision to grant them remission and to do so without any consultation with or notification to those who are still grieving.
Eight convicts were released for varying reasons, to include good behaviour and compassion due to health issues. Three of those are convicted killers, including former policeman Gideon Jackson who pleaded guilty to manslaughter; Umberto Schenato who was found guilty of murder; and Soerdijojo Bryan “Red Rat” Frederik who pleaded guilty to murder.
The others are sex offenders Derrick Grady, Mandela Samuel and Osuide Simpson; fraudster Emerlene Henry; and career animal thief Kenrick Wiltshire.
Clefrin “Chalky” Colbourne – the brother of Lyndon Browne who was hacked to death with a cutlass and knife, by Frederik during an attack inside Browne’s own home at Mack Pond – said he is angry, hurt and disappointed. Frederik was sentenced to 16 years when he pleaded guilty in 2011, and that too evoked outrage at the time.
“I feel very upset. I have been upset before when the news broke that he pleaded guilty and I am more upset when he was released without family members knowing and he would be back on the street. We don’t even know if they would have deported this guy. This is a guy from Suriname; this is a guy who tried to flee the island before they found him,” Colbourne said.
He also raised the issue of conflict of interest, as he pointed out that Frederik was represented by Benjamin in 2011 when the man admitted to chopping Browne nine times and stabbing him twice in the heart when he (Browne) caught him (Frederik) inside his house around mid-morning on June 18, 2009.
“And then when you have the attorney general now, who was the lawyer for that individual, saying he gave it but then considered and changed his mind, you think that’s how people whose family life was snuffed out want to hear you do some good work for some HAPI something and get remission,” he queried.
While questions are being asked about the legality of the releases and even the retraction of same, Benjamin told OBSERVER media he was the one who – using his power and authority as attorney general – signed the warrants for the prisoners to get remission and to be released early, based on the recommendation of recently replaced Superintendent of Prisons Albert Wade.
According to Benjamin, Wade – whose secondment to the prison ended last month – indicated that the majority of inmates selected for release worked outside the prison for the government’s Home Advancement Programme for the Indigent (HAPI) and they had been behaving quite well, thus earning the reduction. Under the HAPI initiative, the inmates are made to repair or build homes for the less fortunate and vulnerable people.
Benjamin said, “We looked at them and I agreed initially that the recommendations would, in full, be acted upon. However, upon reflection and after looking and examining the offences in greater detail, a letter was dispatched or ought to have been dispatched rescinding some of the recommendations which I had assented to. That administrative error has been corrected and that’s the reason why some of the prisoners released were actually put back into the prison.”
But Colbourne said this should not be seen as a simple administrative error because the list should have been examined closely in the first place, rather than approved and then rescinded. He said the murder of his brother left children without their father and other family members without their loved one.
Relatives of Dorothy Prince, a former Dees Service Station employee who was gunned down during a robbery at her workplace in February 2012, were also highly critical of the release of the former policeman who was among three men convicted for the crime.
Jackson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in 2016. He was among those released last week, but his freedom was short-lived after the decision to let him out was rescinded and he was taken back into custody.
One of Prince’s sisters said the family had no idea the killer had been set free, albeit for a short time, and she said this was disappointing.
She said two children lost their mother at a very young age because of the greed of four people, three of whom were convicted and jailed for killing her, while the fourth died before his trial.
The woman labelled it “wickedness” and “unfair”, bearing in mind her sister was out working honestly, while the men were looking to make a quick dollar through crime – one a policeman, the other an ex-Defence Force member!
Social media also lit up over the weekend after convicted murderer Schenato was seen walking in the city. Residents initially believed he had escaped, considering it was only in September 2016 that he was sentenced to 20 years for stabbing his ex-wife multiple times, killing her in broad daylight and in full view of many other shoppers in the busy parking lot of Epicurean supermarket.
One person lamented, “This man should serve the full sentence even if it means that he dies in prison.
“Edda, his ex-wife was my fan and friend. She tried to attend all of my performances and often came while I played at Russell’s in Fort James. She was deathly afraid of him because he threatened to kill her over the money she inherited from her first husband who was an architect. He threatened to kill her if she did not give it to him … I miss my friend. She is gone because he killed her out of greed,” the person wrote.
Evidence of Schenato’s threats was brought out at the trial where he also tried to convince a jury that the killing was an accident.
The convict, Simpson, will keep her freedom as no decision was made to rescind the remission granted to the former nanny who was convicted for serious indecency on a three-year-old girl after photographs which were taken during the commission of the offence were revealed to the child’s mother.
Last November, she was sentenced to 18 months for the crime. However, today, the pregnant woman is due in court where an application to deport her is expected to be made.

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