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Teenager jailed for 12 years over ‘senseless and needless’ killing of grandfather

Victim: Duane Gibbons (Photograph supplied)

A teenager involved in the senseless fatal stabbing of a grandfather has been sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

Shae-Unni Smith, 19, from Sandys, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a charge of manslaughter in connection with the 2021 killing of Duane Gibbons.

Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe told the Supreme Court yesterday that the fatal stabbing of the 57-year-old was a “callous and heinous crime”.

“Mr Gibbons was hunted down like he was prey and he died in circumstances that were senseless and needless,” he said.

“His family must be devastated and no matter what happens today they will probably continue to be devastated.

“I accept the defendant and his family will also be affected by this offence but quite frankly the impact on them pales into the hurt and pain of the Gibbons family.”

The judge said that the defendant deserved a shorter sentence than the 13 years given to his co-accused, Ricardo Tucker Jr, because he had not been the one to deal the fatal blow.

But he said arguments by Marc Daniels, counsel for Smith, that his client was unaware of what was to unfold on the night of the killing would have carried more weight if it had been supported by comments from Tucker.

“We have heard nothing from Tucker,” Mr Justice Wolffe said. “This may be an indication of the silence culture that we are currently in, but silence has consequences.”

The court heard that at around 2am on September 16 last year, Mr Gibbons was near the Blue Hole petrol station in Hamilton Parish when he was spotted by Tucker and Smith, who were on a motorcycle.

The court heard Tucker, the pillion passenger, got off the motorcycle and chased Mr Gibbons to the Swizzle Inn restaurant before he made a stabbing motion towards the victim’s back.

Mr Gibbons was seen on CCTV cameras reaching at his back and attempting to stop his bleeding with his shirt before he collapsed.

A passer-by later found him unconscious and he was rushed to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy confirmed that Mr Gibbons had suffered a stab wound, which damaged arteries and veins near his tenth rib and that he had bled to death.

In the wake of the attack, Tucker and Smith rode away from the area to the Ice Queen fast food restaurant in Paget, where prosecutors said the pair were seen re-enacting the stabbing.

Officers were able to identify Tucker on the CCTV footage, while a search of social media revealed images of Tucker and Smith together, wearing the same clothes as the suspect, taken at a restaurant that night as Smith celebrated his 18th birthday.

Both men were charged with murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter.

In statements read to the court, Mr Gibbon’s family described him as a happy-go-lucky jokester who was always willing to lend a hand and regularly supported his mother.

Mr Daniels told the court that Smith had set out on the night of the stabbing to celebrate his birthday and had no issues or problems with Mr Gibbons.

He said that Smith and Tucker were best friends and had decided to go to Ordnance Island, St George, to have a drink in memory of Tucker’s father.

However, as they travelled along Blue Hole Hill, they saw Mr Gibbons, who attempted to flag them down.

Mr Daniels said: “Tucker asked to get off the bike. Smith didn’t appreciate what was going on. There was no premeditation. There was no foresight.”

He said that Smith saw some sort of physical altercation before Tucker ran back to the bike and instructed him to leave but did not know exactly what had transpired.

Mr Daniels argued that the CCTV footage from Ice Queen showed Smith make the gesture of a punch, before Tucker made a stabbing gesture.

“All of that footage makes clear that there was a discussion about the incident,” he said. “It’s clear that Smith at that point was crystallised as to what had transpired.”

Mr Daniels urged the court to take into account Smith’s youth, lack of previous offences and early guilty plea, along with the reduced role that his client had in the offence compared with Tucker.

Smith himself told the court that he was sorry for the death of Mr Gibbons and that he wished it had never happened.

“No doubt my words will not ease their pain but I’m sorry for the Gibbons family for this happening,” he said.

Mr Justice Wolffe responded that if Smith truly wanted to make amends, he needed to dedicate himself to making sure that others did not repeat his mistakes once he was released.

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