Sentenced to six concurrent life terms for killing six young women in the 2010 Campus Trendz clothing store fire, confessed manslayer Renaldo Anderson Alleyne must now serve a minimum 25 years behind bars before any consideration is given to letting him back on the streets.
That was the judgment handed down today by this country’s final court of appeal – the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – which dismissed Alleyne’s challenge to the 2012 sentence imposed on him by the local High Court.
It is the first time a recommendation has been made about the minimum time a prisoner serving a life sentence in Barbados should remain in jail before being eligible for release.
CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders, in a concurring judgment, said that Alleyne’s crime “was a serious one deserving of a stiff sentence”.
His colleague Justice Denys Barrow, who also agreed, said that sentences should reflect the principles of retribution and deterrence and the court’s position was strengthened by a recognition of the importance of the society’s sense of justice.
In September 2010, the killer, now 29, along with an accomplice, robbed the Campus Trendz story on Tudor Street, The City.
Alleyne, of Prescod Bottom, Hindsbury Road, St Michael, threw two Molotov cocktails into the boutique which caused a blaze. The young women, who had hidden inside the store during the robbery, died as a result of smoke inhalation.
Alleyne admitted his role in the robbery in a statement he wrote. He was charged with six counts of murder, but in June 2011, he pleaded guilty to six counts of manslaughter. This was accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
In reflecting on today’s CCJ’s ruling and the near 10-year tragedy, founder of the September 3 Foundation attorney at law David Comissiong told Barbados TODAY that even though justice had been served, the events of that fateful day still leave him with feelings of depression.
Comissiong, who is Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, lamented that the message of the foundation that urges consideration for each other’s lives does not seem to be getting through to people since the callous acts of the two young men behind the Campus Trendz killings.
“In the years since then and we look at some of the senseless acts of violence that we are still perpetrating on each other, we really have to wonder whether anything has been learnt from the Campus Trendz tragedy,” he said.
The matter of Alleyne’s appeal was heard by the regional court on December 5, 2018. However, shortly after hearing the case, it came to the CCJ’s attention that Alleyne may have been involved in another matter of a similar nature.
The court convened a hearing on January 10, 2019 at which the lawyers on both sides confirmed that he had indeed been involved in the robbery and firebombing of the Chicken Galore building, less than one month before the Campus Trendz incident.
The court was satisfied that as the appellant’s guilty plea in the Chicken Galore incident was not finalized until 2013, it was not relevant at the time of his sentencing for the Campus Trendz matter in 2012. However, based on legislative authority, the CCJ considered that it could take this information into account.
The court was satisfied that the trial judge in the local High Court had considered all the relevant mitigating and aggravating factors and statutory provisions in imposing the sentences.
Further, the actions of Alleyne in two incidents of a similar nature, revealed a callous and reckless disregard for human life that must attract stern condemnation from the judiciary.
The appellate court considered in its judgment that “in discharging its judicial function to fashion an appropriate sentence” when imposing a life sentence, the court “not only has the authority, but, we venture to say, the responsibility” to recommend the tariff or minimum period of sentence to be served for purposes of deterrence and punishment.
Accordingly, the CCJ recommended that Alleyne serves at least 25 years before being eligible for consideration for release.
The killer was represented by attorneys Arthur Holder, who is also the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Shadia Simpson, Adonica Spence and Danielle Mottley, while acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Blackman and Senior Crown Counsel Olivia Davis appeared for the Crown. [email protected]