Protestors demand ‘punishment not retirement’ for murder convict

Scenes from Wednesday’s protest which was staged opposite the Fiennes Institute on Queen Elizabeth Highway. (Photos by Latrishka Thomas)
- Advertisement -

By Latrishka Thomas

“Edda deserved an old age too!” “Murderers need to stay in prison!” “No justice, no peace!” Those were some of the messages displayed on signs held by frustrated protestors outside the Fiennes Institute yesterday.

On the seventh anniversary of the murder of Edda Schenato, a number of people assembled in front of the elderly care facility and registered their outrage over the transfer of her murderer, Umberto Schenato.

In 2013, Umberto murdered Edda, his former wife of 18 years, by stabbing her repeatedly in the Epicurean supermarket’s parking lot.

He was held for three years on remand and, in 2016, the Italian-born engineer was sentenced to spend 20 years at Her Majesty’s Prison, but recently the 80-year-old was moved to the Fiennes Institute, reportedly due to ill health.

Some residents, however, registered their dissatisfaction with that decision.

One female protestor who yesterday alleged that “Umberto Schenato is not critically ill, he is not extremely ill, he is certainly not receiving therapeutic treatment at Fiennes”, added that “if there is any situation where he would need help to change himself or to bathe himself, that service should be provided by the government in the prison.”

Another woman said that her concern is regarding the “disparate treatment that Caucasians are given over our black men and women.”

“He has done the crime. He should not be spending time in a retirement home with people who never committed any crime, much less a gruesome murder like he committed,” she exclaimed.

On the other hand, Jacquie Bartlett, the daughter of the late Edda Schenato, described the anniversary of her great loss as a “tough day.”

“Everybody is in shock and they just can’t believe. It was hard enough in the beginning. The sentence we thought was light considering that he took my mom’s life and then due to his age they reduced it from 20 to 14 years, and we thought, wow that’s even lighter. And now that he has served half of his sentence, as far as I’m concerned, he’s a free man,” Bartlett told Observer.

She said that although “they painted the picture a little prettier saying well he’s being guarded there, he’s being watched… It’s very disturbing.”

The Canadian resident further disclosed that the decision to move Umberto was not communicated to her or any of her family members. She said she had reached out to Prime Minister Gaston Browne who told her that the Chief Medical Officer “claimed [Umberto] to be critically ill and unfit to travel.”

But despite his hip injury “it doesn’t call for him moving to a retirement home,” Bartlett remarked. “If they are going to fund somebody in the retirement home, wouldn’t they fund them in prison and keep him where he needs to be?” she added, stating her belief that Umberto is getting preferential treatment.

Meanwhile, in just five days, an online petition called ‘Justice for Edda and her grieving family’ has garnered over 600 signatures.

The petition, which is expected to be presented to Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, is lobbying for the “heinous criminal to be returned to Her Majesty’s Prison to complete his sentence”, and that “senior citizens and staff at Fiennes Institute be respected and not be subjected to having a murderer living amongst them.”

When Observer spoke to Benjamin last week, he explained that HMP does not have the capacity to care for someone who is as critically ill as Umberto.

Attempts to reach Minister Benjamin on the latest development have proved futile.

- Advertisement -