Murder was the first of its kind in Bermuda, jury told – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Murder was the first of its kind in Bermuda, jury told

Murder accused Derek Spalding could face a jury’s verdict today, following closing arguments depicting him as a criminal who sought to use maritime experience as a means of smuggling drugs into Bermuda.

Prosecutor Carrington Mahoney told the court that the August 24, 2007 murder of footballer Shaki Crockwell was the first of its kind in Bermuda’s history and suggested the killer had written about it.

“Up to this time there has never been a murder in Bermuda with a man shot in the head while wearing a bullet proof vest,” Mr Mahoney said, calling reggae lyrics found in Mr Spalding’s room two weeks after the shooting “dead on point” in their description of the crime.

But defence lawyer Mark Pettingill, in turn, ridiculed allegations against his client.

A former prison mate of the accused, Randy Lightbourne, has given evidence that Mr Spalding confessed to him on the day after the murder, on board the ferry where he worked.

Describing Mr Lightbourne as a “sociopath”, Mr Pettingill questioned how the accused gave an account of the murder while working on board a Saturday ferry that was coming in to dock at Hamilton.

He added: “A criminal mastermind commits a major felony with a gun, confesses to Randy Lightbourne, finishes his shift and drives down to his daddy and confesses to him too?”

Mr Spalding’s father, who has also testified that his son confessed to the murder, “didn’t even know his kids’ birthdays,” Mr Pettingill told the jury. “Frankly, I’m not even sure he knows how many kids he’s got.”

The father, who cannot be named due to a reporting restriction, has also said that his son smuggled cannabis and guns into Bermuda while aboard the

Spirit of Bermuda training sloop.

Mr Pettingill said the allegation “did the biggest disservice to the sloop programme”, and questioned how it could have been achieved.

“Post-9/11, do you really think you can just walk freely on and off a boat in the United States of America?” he asked.

He told the jury to ask how Mr Spalding could have known that the vessel would “skip St George’s and go to Dockyard” due to a technical problem, thus avoiding a customs inspection.

Just seven weeks into parole after years in prison for an armed robbery, Mr Spalding “would have gone back in the clink for 18 years” if caught, Mr Pettingill said.

Turning to the crime scene on the Railway Trail where Mr Crockwell was found dead, Mr Pettingill said: “There is no direct evidence that Derek had anything to do with this.”

Earlier, the jury heard from Marine and Ports pilot Mario Thompson, who described Mr Spalding as “eager and keen to make progress”.

Inspector Calvin Smith of the Community Policing Division also described arresting the accused in June 1996, following an armed robbery at Lindo’s grocery store in Devonshire.

The jury heard that Mr Spalding told police he smuggled his weapon, a .22 handgun, from Jamaica, and showed police where he had hidden 12 rounds near Abbot’s Cliff in Hamilton Parish. He said Mr Spalding had refused to hand over another gun and more hidden ammunition.

The accused was described as “pretty hyped” when first apprehended.

Continuing to point out parallels between violent reggae lyrics found in Mr Spalding’s possession and the murder of Mr Crockwell, Mr Mahoney asked the jury not to believe Westgate prisoner Kirk Mundy’s assertion that it was he who had written the songs.

“These are two criminals seeking to help each other,” he said.

Closing his argument, Mr Mahoney told the jury: “The blood of Shaki Crockwell is crying out from the earth for justice. It was that cry that caused this man to have sleepless nights thereafter. It was crying out for justice in these songs.”

He added: “It has been a long road since 2007, but it’s never too late for justice. Justice does not only involve innocent people not being convicted of crimes they did not do. Justice also involves making sure that the guilty is convicted and are not allowed to get away with their crimes.”

The case continues today.

Derek Spalding (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published February 09, 2012 at 8:53 am (Updated February 09, 2012 at 8:53 am)

Murder was the first of its kind in Bermuda, jury told

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