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Film to tell story of last hangings

Island Flames author Jonathan Smith with screenplay writers Alia Hamza, Lucinda Spurling and Liana Hall, of Afflare Films Ltd. (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A book about the last hangings on British soil and the riots that followed has been turned into a screenplay.

Now the team behind the movie script Prerogative of Mercy is on the hunt for backers to help bring it to the silver screen.

The movie is based on the book Island Flames, which told the story of the controversial 1977 hangings of Erskine “Buck” Burrows and Larry Tacklyn and the riots that followed.

Author Jonathan Smith, a former Commissioner of Police, said: “When we announced this project in 2016, we recognised the opportunity to produce this dramatic Bermudian story on an international scale with overseas partners.”

Burrows was sentenced to death for killing police commissioner George Duckett in 1972 and the murders of Sir Richard Sharples, the Governor, and his aide-de-camp Captain Hugh Sayers in the grounds of Government House in 1973.

Tacklyn was acquitted of the Government House shootings but both men were found guilty of the 1973 Shopping Centre murders of Victor Rego and Mark Doe.

Mr Smith, the president of Island Flames Limited, which owns the screenplay rights, added: “Prerogative of Mercy, the working title for the film, has significant potential for putting Bermuda on the map as a film production site and will realise employment benefits and injection of foreign capital at the production stage.”

The screenplay, written by director Lucinda Spurling, writer and actress Liana Hall, and film-maker and former broadcast-news journalist Alia Hamza, was finished the same week Bermuda marked the 40th anniversary of the riots.

Ms Spurling said the work was “no small task”.

She added: “We are excited to finally share the story with potential partners in a bid to have it realised and further share this important story with the world.

“The professional goal and significance of this project is not only to bring a film production to Bermuda, but chiefly to tell this globally relevant story for an international audience.”

Ms Spurling said 80 per cent of the film would be filmed in Bermuda and the rest in London.