Footballer’s murderer is jailed for 38 years
Gunman Derek Spalding has been jailed for at least 38 years for murdering footballer Shaki Crockwell over a drug debt.
Locking him up, Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said: “This was a murder, a premeditated murder, carried out by a very manipulative, cold and calculated assassin in execution style.”
Spalding, 36, will be in his early 70s before he will be eligible to apply for parole. He was convicted by the unanimous verdict of a jury last month of shooting Mr Crockwell dead on August 24, 2007. The conviction came thanks to fresh evidence from key witnesses who stepped forward in 2010 and 2011.
Mr Justice Greaves said he must serve a minimum of 38 years in jail. The time he has already spent on remand since he was charged with the killing in August 2011 will be taken into account.
Spalding’s trial heard how he shot 25-year-old Mr Crockwell over an unpaid drug debt. Mr Crockwell had been selling drugs for Spalding while Spalding was locked up in Westgate but did not pay him the money owed.
Five months after he was released from Westgate on parole in March 2007, Spalding lured the talented footballer to the Railway Trail in Devonshire to exact his retribution over the debt.
He murdered him with a bullet to the head while he was urinating with his back turned. Mr Crockwell was wearing a bulletproof vest.
The victim was a striker for the national football team, and also played for Boulevard Blazers and Bermuda Hogges. He left two young sons, who were aged eight years old and six months old at the time of his murder.
The court yesterday heard a victim impact statement read by prosecutor Maria Sofianos on behalf of the eldest son, who is now 13 years old.
He said in his statement: “Children tease me because my Daddy died.” The son explained he has had to undergo counselling and misses his father greatly.
The child’s mother, Saadia Savory, said she would never forget the way he screamed when she broke the news his father had been murdered.
Then, she said, “He dropped to the floor as if he had been knocked down by a train.”
Mr Crockwell’s father Danny Crockwell also spoke in a statement of his pain and grief, saying: “Shaki was everything a son should be. Handsome, outgoing, caring and stronghearted.”
After the sentence was imposed, Mr Crockwell Sr said he was feeling “shaky and upset” and had not been able to sit in court through the proceedings. Ms Sofianos had suggested Spalding should get up to 40 years behind bars and Mr Crockwell Sr said: “They tell me he got 38 years. It’s not enough. He should have got 40. He killed my son, and for what?”
During the trial, convicted bank robber Randy Lightbourne, 45, was the first of two key witnesses for the prosecution. He explained that he knew Mr Crockwell and Spalding from prison. He told the jury Mr Crockwell sold drugs for the defendant but did not pay him, leaving Spalding feeling angry and cheated.
According to Mr Lightbourne he tried to mediate between the two men, but Spalding eventually carried out his threats to kill Mr Crockwell. Mr Lightbourne said Spalding confessed the killing to him the morning after he did it. He reported the information to the police more than three years later, in September 2010, after he had been shot himself and thought he was going to die.
Spalding’s own father was the second key witness for the Crown. He told the jury his son confessed to the murder and asked him to provide an alibi. The father cannot be named due to a reporting restriction imposed by the judge at the request of the prosecution.
The father reported Spalding to the police in August 2011 because he had argued with his son, and feared his son was going to kill him.
Both witnesses told the trial Spalding had brought in guns and drugs on the
Spirit of Bermuda sail training ship in a voyage shortly after his release from prison.
Mr Justice Greaves spoke with regret during the sentencing proceedings of the damage that “the good ship
Spirit of Bermuda” suffered to its reputation as a result of the case.
Spalding denied killing Mr Crockwell. He had previously been handed a 28-year jail sentence in 1997 for armed robbery and attempted armed robbery, and shot and injured a man during one of those robberies. However, he insisted that he had turned his life around and was at home on the night Mr Crockwell was killed.
Spalding declined to address the court during the sentencing hearing. Defence lawyer Mark Pettingill said he maintains his innocence and plans to appeal his conviction.
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