Inquest: Neighbors offered shelter to abused woman

A young woman described as being abused by her boyfriend was given shelter by neighbors the month before she was killed, a coroner’s jury heard this week.

Queen’s coroner Eileen Nervik read a neighbor’s statement on Wednesday as part of the evidence in the inquests into the deaths of Nichelle Anna-Kay Thomas, 21, and her boyfriend Devon Roy Campbell, 39.

Ms. Thomas’s body was found in a closet at the home of her employer on Sunday morning. Feb. 9, 2014. The same morning, Mr. Campbell’s body was found hanging from a tree in the yard.

The employer was elderly and ill; Ms. Thomas provided Sunday relief for his full-time helper.

The statement read by the coroner was from Chris Alexander Paul, who gave it on Feb. 15, 2014. He said he lived in an apartment in the building where Mr. Campbell and Ms. Thomas lived. He said they were “always living badly,” and he would come home and hear that Mr. Campbell had beaten Ms. Thomas, but he never saw it.

On a date in January 2014, his wife phoned him to tell him Ms. Thomas was at their apartment “and wanted us to give her a sleep” and he gave his permission.

It was not clear from the statement how long Ms. Thomas stayed, but Mr. Paul described a day when he was home and saw Mr. Campbell at a back window calling for Ms. Thomas. He did not see her in the house, so he told Mr. Campbell she was not there.

Later, after his wife came home and spoke with Ms. Thomas, he asked his wife where Ms. Thomas had been and was told she had been hiding in a closet.

Mr. Paul said he was upset and told his wife he did not want to get involved in any mix-up between Ms. Thomas and Mr. Campbell.

He learned that Mr. Campbell had said Ms. Thomas was in Mr. Paul’s apartment because he was having intimate relations with her. The next day, Mr. Campbell apologized to him for saying that. Mr. Paul said he never had any relations with Ms. Thomas, not even conversations.

“I allowed her to stay because my wife wanted to help her,” he said.

The jury previously heard from acquaintances and relatives who said that Mr. Campbell had physically and mentally abused Ms. Thomas. The couple met in Jamaica when she was 17 and still in high school. She first moved to Cayman in early 2012. Her mother said Ms. Thomas had wanted to work and earn money so she could continue her education.

Also on Wednesday, forensic pathologist Ashwyn Rajagopalan gave evidence via video link about the post-mortem examinations he had performed. He said Ms. Thomas died from loss of blood after multiple chop wounds.

Dr. Rajagopalan gave the cause of death for Mr. Campbell as hanging and said there were no other injuries on the body to indicate a struggle or fight.

The coroner said she would instruct the jury on the law and provide a summary of facts on Friday morning. Ms. Thomas’s case is to be considered first.