Webster Edmond who kidnapped and raped a St. Joseph teenager in 2011 will know his fate in two weeks.
Judge Birnie Stephenson was prepared to sentence kidnapper and rapist Webster Edmond when he appeared before her for sentencing on four charges at the Roseau High Court on Friday March 1, 2013. But the judge postponed her decision to 15 March because she received submissions from the defence one day earlier, on Thursday February 28, 2013.
Earlier, Edmond had changed his not-guilty pleas to guilty on four of six charges on the advice of his lawyer, Peter Alleyne after the first witness, the victim, Shanice Jemmott, now a 16-year old fifth former, gave lucid evidence before a jury of eight women and one man on Monday February 4, 2013.
During the trial, Director of Public Prosecutions, Gene Pestaina, accepted the guilty plea on the first count of kidnapping the 15-year old girl in the hills at Hillsborough near St. Joseph and confined her against her will for 40 days beginning Thursday, February 17, 2011. Edmond was also guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse between February 17, 2011 and March 28, 2011; guilty to possession of ammunition and of a shotgun. The DPP accepted not guilty pleas for abduction and indecent assault. Since the jurors had already begun hearing the case, Justice Stephenson directed them to give formal verdicts on all six charges as put before them by the court clerk.
This brings closure to a case that captivated the attention of most Dominicans in 2011. The police found Jemmott after the St. Joseph community conducted a massive search but failed to locate the missing teenager. No one claimed a Government offer of EC$20,000 for information leading to her safe return.
According to evidence provided to the jury, Edmond kidnapped the schoolgirl on Thursday February 17, 2011. In school uniform Jemmott left her home at 6:30am, and while still in the vicinity heard "psst, psst, psst" coming from the bushes. She ran towards the main road, but curiosity got the better of her and she walked back up the secondary road to see who was calling her.
She observed her abductor, whom she knew, coming towards her. He was dressed in brown pants and dark brown shirt. He carried a blue or black bag on his shoulder and a gun, slinging on his shoulder.
Jemmott told the court: "I started to run. He grabbed me by the hand and said I was going nowhere. He dragged me in the bushes. He crossed the main road holding my hand. He brought me along the riverside. He put me on his back and crossed the river. I was shocked, but I did not ask where he was taking me. Across the river he placed me down and we walk up a mountain about 15 minutes or so, slow, because the mountain was very steep. I was in front of him. I was feeling very scared. On a flat area I noticed a wooden house with a galvanize roof. The inside of the house was very old – old clothes, old tarpaulin, sticks, no furniture".
She said he took off her clothes and had sex with her. The girl asked him why he was doing that to her by taking her into the bush, and he mentioned some incidents long ago to do with giving the family something, and of a promise of payback.
And so for the next 40 days and 40 nights in 2011 while law abiding citizens worried about the fate of the girl and speculated about her whereabouts, Edmond kept her in the bushes. He twice moved their "home" using the tarpaulin as their makeshift shelter.
His need for sustenance would be his undoing. The police were quietly going about their investigations and on March 28, 2011 Edmond left the girl alone in the night in search of food.
Jemmott told the court: "I heard some noise after like stones rolling. I heard someone calling my name, asking if I was okay. I replied: 'Yes!' I noticed someone I knew before. It was Sergeant Cuffy. It was about 8 o'clock in the night. They told me to come outside the tarpaulin. They asked the accused where the bullets were.
"The police untied the tarpaulin, wrapped it up and took what they had to take and they took me to Police Headquarters in Roseau".