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Gibbings murder pair given life sentences

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A half-brother and sister convicted of the “chilling and merciless” murder of the woman's ex-boyfriend were jailed for life in the Supreme Court yesterday.

Katrina Burgess, 49, and Cleveland Rogers, 53, will have to serve at least 25 years behind bars for the knife murder of Marcus Gibbings almost 14 years ago before they are eligible for parole — the maximum sentence allowed.

Puisne Judge Craig Attridge said he would have considered an even harsher penalty for the “senseless” killing of the 32-year-old if he could have.

Mr Attridge said: “It's clear that Mr Gibbings was many things to many people.

“A beloved son and father, a trusted friend and a responsible and well-liked colleague.

“He didn't deserve to die in this violent and depraved manner.”

Detective Superintendent Nicholas Pedro, head of the police crime division, said after sentencing: “From the day this tragic event occurred, we investigated this case diligently and with the utmost urgency.

“We hope we have demonstrated a commitment that the Bermuda Police Service does not forget victims and their families.”

Mr Pedro added that a cold case review team from the Serious Crime Unit had devoted years to the case and that he recognised the time it took caused “some angst” to Mr Gibbings's family and the public.

Carrington Mahoney, a Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, earlier told the court that the murder was “deliberate, planned and coldly executed” by the pair.

He told the court Burgess — who had been in a relationship with Mr Gibbings — paid Rogers $5,000 to kill him after they had broken up.

Mr Mahoney said Burgess lured Mr Gibbings to an apartment in Devonshire, where Rogers ambushed him with a knife.

He added that, although Rogers was the one who carried out the act, both were involved and deserved equal sentences.

Mr Mahoney asked for the maximum sentence — life with 25 years before they were eligible for parole. He said that neither of the two could demonstrate any mitigation.

Mr Mahoney highlighted that neither had pleaded guilty or shown remorse and both had multiple previous convictions.

The court heard Rogers earlier served jail time for theft, assault and sexual exploitation and Burgess had several convictions for dishonesty and cheque forgery.

Mr Gibbings's family, in a victim impact statement, asked the court to show the defendants “no mercy” for the crime that deprived three children of their father.

The statement said: “We would give anything to have Marcus with us, to take away the pain and terror he suffered that night.”

The family added that Burgess had “done everything possible” to disrupt their grieving in the 13 years since Mr Gibbings's death.

They said: “All Marcus ever did was try to love her and her daughter and for that he paid the ultimate price — his life.”

Marc Daniels, who represented Rogers, agreed that a life sentence was appropriate for premeditated murder, but urged the court to consider his client's age.

He said: “Mr Rogers is 53 years old. A 25-year tariff would bring him to 78 years old.”

Mr Daniels suggested a lower sentence of 22 years would not be unreasonable and that it was unlikely that Rogers would be back before the courts at the age of 75.

Charles Richardson, who appeared for Burgess, said prison for 25 years would amount to a “whole life” sentence, which would prevent an opportunity for redemption.

He added: “This is not a case in which a sentence that ultimately amounts to the deprivation of the rest of the defendant's natural life is required.”

Mr Richardson said that the end of the sentence would not necessarily mean the two were released, only that they could go before the parole board.

He added that, even if parole applications were successful, they would be under supervision for the rest of their lives.

Burgess and Rogers were found guilty of premeditated murder by a unanimous verdict in March. It is understood both plan to appeal against their convictions.

Mr Gibbings was found in a pool of blood in an apartment on Derwent Lane on October 26, 2006.

The trial heard the victim had shared the apartment with Burgess until weeks before the murder, but was in the process of moving out.

A post-mortem revealed he had suffered multiple stab wounds, including one to his face and two to his chest, one of which struck his heart.

The court heard evidence from two witnesses — both former girlfriends of Rogers — who testified that he confessed to the murder.

The two witnesses cannot be named for legal reasons.

The first witness, who was in a relationship with Rogers in 2006, said Rogers admitted that he had waited behind a couch for Mr Gibbings, who was lured to the apartment by Burgess.

The second witness said Rogers mentioned in conversation that he had killed someone who had “stalked” Burgess.

Neither told police about the confessions until 2018, when Rogers was behind bars for an unrelated conviction for unlawful carnal knowledge of a 13-year-old girl.

It is The Royal Gazette's policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

Violent and depraved: Cleveland Rogers sentenced to life in prison (File photograph)
Violent and depraved: Katrina Burgess sentenced to life in prison (File photograph)
Murder victim: Marcus Gibbings (File photograph)

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Published June 20, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated June 20, 2020 at 9:12 am)

Gibbings murder pair given life sentences

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