The deaths of four men who were gunned down in separate and unrelated incidents have all been ruled unlawful killings by the Coroner’s Court.

The rulings were returned during a two-day inquest into the murders of Preston Rivers, Anthony Connor, Victor Yates and Damean Dwayne ‘Deebo’ Seymour.

Preston Rivers

Preston Rivers. – File photo

Rivers was 18 years old when he was gunned down outside his West Bay apartment in September 2011. During the inquest, the jury heard that at around 10pm, a lone gunman approached Rivers as he exited this then-girlfriend’s car and opened fire, shooting him in the lower back once and then twice in the head.

Detective Sergeant Peter Dean told the jury that Rivers died in what was “tit-for-tat gang war killings which were retaliatory in nature”.

Dean is the head of the RCIPS Serious Crime Review team, which is being profiled in the Compass’ exclusive Cold Case files series.

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Rivers’ case remains an unsolved murder. However, Dean told the jury that two days after Rivers was killed, Jason Christian, a rival gang member, was also gunned down. The jury heard that inside Christian’s vehicle officers found a .38 calibre revolver, which was the same type of gun used in Rivers’ death.

The medical evidence presented to the jury stated that Rivers’ official cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds with the shot to the back of the head the fatal blow.

Anthony ‘Beenie’ Connor

Police cordoned off the parking lot of Mango Tree Restaurant and Bar where Anthony Connor was shot dead. –  Photo: Chris Court

Connor was gunned down while sitting in his SUV in October 2013 in the parking lot of the Mango Tree Restaurant and Bar in George Town.

Like Rivers, his death remains an unsolved murder. However, police said Connor’s past might have been a contributing factor in his death.

“Connor… had been out of prison for less than three months before he was killed,” Detective Inspector Sean Bryan told the jury.

He added, “It is clear he had a number of enemies, and the [senior investigating officer] has no doubt his murder was in revenge for something as opposed to a random act.”

The jury was shown CCTV footage of Connor as he left the bar with his then girlfriend and an unidentified man. The shooting was not caught on camera. Instead, the shadow of the assumed killer was captured, raising and lowering his hand at the exact time that Connor was shot.

Connor’s autopsy ruled that his cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Victor Yates

Victor Yates. – File photo

22-year-old Victor Yates was shot and killed along Watercourse Road in January 2015. Although his case remains officially unsolved, Detective Inspector Collins Oremule said all the evidence points to one man as the killer.

“There were multiple people who said they saw [the killer], and before his death, he confessed to a close friend that he had in fact pulled the trigger,” Oremule said.

A suspect was arrested in connection with Yates’ death; however, when no witnesses came forward, he was released.

The court heard that a possible reason why Yates was murdered was because of a misunderstanding.

“We were told that days before Yates was killed, he was riding a motorcycle that was backfiring, and those sounds might have been mistaken for gunshots, because days later, before his death, a house that he was staying at was shot up,” said Oremule.

While presiding over the inquest hearings, Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez read an excerpt from a Cayman Compass article, in Which Yates’ father called on the community to come forward.

“This was a father’s plea for justice,” said Hernandez. “It is clear that many people witnessed this event, but no one came forward.”

Damean Dwayne ‘Deebo’ Seymour

Police swarm the scene of the fatal shooting of Damean Dwayne ‘Deebo’ Seymour, in George Town Scranton’s neighbourhood. Seymour was found dead in the street near the intersection of Martin Drive and Tigris Street. – Photo: Brent Fuller

Seymour was gunned down in a shooting along Martin Drive, George Town in November 2016.

The medical report revealed that Seymour was shot five times, three times in the head, and twice in the torso.

The jury heard that Seymour was a known drug dealer, who had served several sentences for drug- and assault-related matters, and he was also the suspect in a murder inquiry.

Oremule told the court, “There is CCTV video that shows a black Honda motorcar driving around the area several times before Seymour was killed. That same car was the vehicle that was eventually used to transport the gunman away from the scene a short distance way.”

Oremule said the woman who owns the car was arrested and questioned. She denied having played any role in Seymour’s death. The killer was never located, and the bullets recovered from the scene did not return any positive matches to the RCIPS’ data base.

“Our enquiries led us to Jamaica. However, we have not been able to identify a person who could be the killer,” said Oremule. “But investigations are ongoing.”

The rulings

Before returning their ruling in each case, Hernandez told the jury that in order for them to return a verdict of an unlawful killing they had to be certain that the killing was not committed by way of a legal act such as self-defence, nor could it have been an accident, as “as an unlawful killing was a criminal matter which required a high standard of certainty”.

In each case, the jury deliberated and returned unanimous verdicts of unlawful killing.

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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s very worrying that people saw some of these murders but were, apparently, so scared of reprisals they would sooner let a killer go free than be a witness.

    How can we better protect the identity of witnesses to make this fear go away?