What price crime?

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The deed was horrid. A British man who visited his family for Christmas holidays end up being blind in both eyes after he was shot during a robbery of his parent’s home.
This is not Miami Vice or CSI Miami. It is not television, but a dastardly act which occurred in Antigua & Barbuda, in the southern side of the island—Old Road.
It is reminiscent of another horrific incident in 2008 when a honeymooning British couple was gunned down in a robbery, in the south of the island.
The outrage that the killings sparked and the backlash from the international media reverberate to this day.
The quality of investigation which followed the killing of the British couple was admirable. No stone was left unturned. The services of Scotland Yard were enlisted, and, within days, two young men, ages 17 and 20 were arrested for the crime.
Using technology, calls that had been made from the couple’s cell phone located a woman who would later cover for her boyfriend. The victims’ jewelry, camera and mobile phones were recovery from two Spanish women who tried to sell them.
The Cocos murder story, although horrendous, concluded satisfactorily with the arrest of the perpetrators, one of whom was subsequently killed by police when he escaped custody and the other convict is today facing two lifetimes for an additional killing and awaiting trial for yet another.
As with the Mullanys’ episode, the British press has had a field day. Parallels have been drawn between the two killings and the serious injuries suffered by Christopher Tester. The inference has been the fumbling, bumbling actions which pass for serious investigation by law enforcement here, and the kind of investigation necessary to capture the perpetrator/s of this heinous crime.
The parents of this young man have not taken the matter lightly. First they raised the money necessary to airlift their son back to his homeland to obtain the best care possible and now they have offered a reward of US$20 000 to anyone with information which leads to the capture and eventual conviction of the person or persons responsible for scarring their child for life.
We applaud them for the gesture. It is admirable that they are not prepared to sit with their hands in their laps and wait on the police. We are unaware of whether the police have been giving them regular and timely updates on the progress of the investigation, but their proactive stance of providing inducement of a sizable amount of cash for information, is commendable.
Quite recently, the police have come under serious scrutiny after they released the crime stats for the year just ended. Sadly lacking was the solvability rates for serious or other crimes. We have no indication whatsoever how many of the robberies which occurred in 2016 were solved and the robbers made to pay for their actions and the owners property restored.
The action of offering rewards is commonplace in many parts of the world, but virtually unheard of in Antigua& Barbuda. Everyone agrees that the police need all the help they can get to solve crimes, just what this help will be is perhaps debatable. As far as we are aware, Antigua & Barbuda has been a part of the Crimestoppers network for quite a long time. It would be interesting to know just how many crimes are solved by the information provided annually to the network.
The sums they remit are minuscule, but the object is not to enrich, but to encourage a social conscience. And this perhaps strike at the heart of what could be wrong in our society- the absence of a social conscience. In the past, crimes have been committed in areas where many people would have witnessed it, yet when the police make enquiries they draw blanks.
On Friday, a teacher told this newsroom that a code of silence operates at the school where a violent incident led to the fracturing of the skull of a student and the arrest of a teacher for attempted murder. Teachers seeking to get to the truth met a wall of silence. In an era where cell phones with cameras are in the hands of every student, it strains the credibility that no one recorded what transpired in the school grounds.
It appears not to matter that one of their colleagues could have lost his life and a teacher could be lost to them if he is convicted wrongfully. The fact of the matter is the truth has to be told, so that justice could be done.
Whoever said money makes the mare go, had more than a point. The action of offering reward for information leading to the conviction of perpetrators of crime, especially serious crimes, just might be the catalyst that will evoke the social conscience necessary to solve crimes.

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