Estella’s murderers consider appeals

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Attorneys for Kirkland Henry and
Larry Prinston Ricketts are carefully considering Monday’s judgment in which
Chief Justice Anthony Smellie found both men guilty of murdering Estella Scott
Roberts.

Mrs. Scott Roberts was killed on
the night of Friday 10 October,, 2008.

Henry and Ricketts chose to be
tried by judge alone and the Chief Justice heard evidence 1 – 12 February. He
handed down his decision on 22 February, noting that he had to explain both the
legal and factual bases for reaching the conclusions he did.

On behalf of Ricketts, Defence
Attorney Nicola Moore said the judge’s ruling was being carefully considered.
“In due course his attorneys will determine what legal steps are appropriate,”
she said. During trial, Ricketts was represented by Robert Fortune QC,
instructed by Gordon Aspden through the local firm of Priestleys.

Defence Attorney Ben Tonner, who
instructed Ian Bourne QC on behalf of Henry, also indicated that the Chief
Justice’s decision was being carefully considered.

After giving his reasons to a
packed courtroom on Monday evening, the Chief Justice pronounced the only sentence
mandated by law – that the men be imprisoned for life.

Solicitor General Cheryll Richards,
who successfully prosecuted the case, noted after sentencing that Henry had
pleaded guilty prior to trial to the abduction,
rape and robbery of their victim. Ms
Moore advised that a similar indictment was outstanding against Ricketts, who
pleaded not guilty to those same three charges.

The men are to return to court on
Friday, 5 March for those matters.

The Chief Justice in giving his
reasons noted that the verdicts had to be separate and he could not use Henry’s
account against Ricketts.

He summarised events of that Friday
night before the offences occurred, noting that Estella was celebrating her 33rd
birthday with female friends at Decker’s Restaurant, having already celebrated
with her husband two nights before. She was last seen walking toward the rear
of a car park furthest away from West Bay Road.

It was there she came “face to face
with terror,” the judge said, as she was abducted and then driven to an
isolated area of West
Bay where she was raped,
robbed, killed and had her body incinerated in her car.

Henry claimed not to have
participated in the murder and his lawyer interpreted Henry’s actions at the scene as withdrawal from the plan of
the accomplice.

Instead, the judge said, by saying
“It’s up to you” and then standing there and watching, Henry was giving
implicit encouragement.  He showed no remorse
about the fate of their victim; he
had the presence of mind to elicit her PIN number from her for her bank card.
Although he said he moved away when his accomplice burned Estella’s vehicle
with her body in it, he then waited until his accomplice caught up with him.

Further, Henry had taken a picture
of the victim that night; choosing
to keep the image conveyed no sense of withdrawal or objection
to her being killed.

Henry knew his accomplice had used
a knife to cut her hand at the beginning of the incident; he had to be aware
that serious bodily harm would probably result from their joint enterprise.

The evidence against Ricketts came
from his own signed statement to police and from inferences, which could be
drawn from his very recent possession of Estella’s ATM card and his attempt to
use it around 6.30am that Saturday. Ricketts also had one of Estella’s
Blackberry phones, but he kept the phone and its battery in separate pockets of
a shirt in his closet, making the phone difficult to trace.

The Chief Justice confirmed his earlier
ruling that Ricketts’ signed statement was not concocted by police.  He pointed out that he would be obliged to disregard
the confession if the criteria for admitting it were not met in the trial
subsequent to the special hearing as to whether it was admissible.

In Ricketts’ case, he pointed out
that the signed statement contained information not known to police at the time
the statement was given. It had been suggested that police used information
from Henry to concoct a statement from Ricketts. But Ricketts was the one who
described the use of a garbage bag to suffocate the victim.

Ricketts described the clothing he
wore on the night of the incident before police could be certain of its
significance – video images from the ATM machine showing the person trying to
use Estella’s bank card.

Also, the allegation of concoction
did not fit because Henry had said that Ricketts and he had sex with the lady,
but nowhere in Ricketts’ interview was there any mention of his having sexual
contact with their victim.

Finally, the Chief Justice pointed
out, in the special hearing, Ricketts said he signed the interview even though
the answers were not his because the police told him it would not be used
against him and was just routine. But in his trial, he said he only became
aware of the “concocted” answers in his interview after he received the court
bundle in preparation for trial.

Further, when questioned by Ms
Richards, he said he heard about some lady getting burnt up in a vehicle at
Barkers. Ricketts said he heard that when he got to his job site on the
Saturday morning, 11 October, when he worked from 8am until 1pm.

But the vehicle was not found until
after noon that day. It was clear that Ricketts’ knowledge could only have come
from his own involvement, the Chief Justice said.

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