Henry is murderer says crown

| 12/02/2010

(CNS): Despite his claims, Kirkland Henry is guilty of murdering Estella Scott-Roberts, whether or not he was the one who actually committed the physical act, the crown said on Thursday. Making her closing address in the murder trial of Henry and Larry Ricketts, Solicitor General Cheryll Richards QC told the court that when he embarked on this joint criminal enterprise with Ricketts to abduct, rape and rob Estella Scott-Roberts, he was aware that the level of violence was such it could escalate to murder and not only did he not distance himself from that crime, he believed he would benefit from it.

Following further cross examination on Thursday morning of Ricketts’ evidence in chief, when Richards revealed further inconsistencies and implausibility in his claim that his confession statement was fabricated by the police, Richards began her closing statement for the case against both defendants.

If Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who is acting as judge and jury, does not believe Ricketts’ claims of fabrication by the police, then his confession stands as an admission to murder. However, Henry has claimed that he was not a party to the killing, while admitting his guilt in the rest of the violent crime.

As a result, Richards focused heavily on the legal argument that Henry was involved in a pre-planned and premeditated joint criminal enterprise, in which violent acts were committed from the very start. She said, not only had the two decided to rob and abduct  a single, defenceless woman that night, it was clear it would be a violent offence.

Richards pointed out that Henry did not attempt to stop Ricketts from murdering the victim or help her, and that while he may have declared that he would not kill her, he did little to distance himself from the act, remained at the scene, stole Scott-Roberts belongings and attempted to steal money with her bank card after the murderous event. Richards explained that, had Ricketts’ efforts to cover up the crime worked, Henry would have stood to benefit from her death. Richards described how by the division of the deceased’s property Henry had shared in the rewards of the ultimate violent crime.

She also noted that while Henry had made a clean breast of it when the netclosed in on him, he had lied when he was first arrested in connection to Scott-Roberts’ property and had shown little remorse until he confessed some time after his arrest.

Richards noted that when the abduction began in the car park at Deckers on the night of 10 October 2008, Ricketts had, according to Henry’s confession, pulled a knife on the deceased to stop her from struggling and cut her hand, but Henry did not leave the scene and got into the car, even when he was aware of the level of violence that would be involved and that his accomplice had a weapon.

She noted how he had helped to subdue Scott-Roberts as he dragged her from the driver’s seat to the back of her car. The solicitor general described how Henry had admitted to restraining her having his hand over her mouth as Ricketts drove the car to the remote Barkers area.

Once there he helped tie up the victim, drag her to the beach and had committed an act of sexual violence while she was bound and gagged.

His comments to Ricketts about it not being right to kill her and that he would not do the act were not enough, Richards claimed, to signify his withdrawl from the joint criminal enterprise. She said Henry had still got into the car, even if he had walked away for a brief period, and drove with Ricketts to the spot where he eventually set fire to it to destroy the evidence of the crime and had stayed with his accomplice while they escaped from the scene with the stolen items in the early hours of the morning.

Richards reminded that court of the continued and frantic attempt to get money from the ATM before the card’s theft was discovered.

Richards pointed to Henry’s continued and willing participation in the crime throughout that started with violence and ended in the ultimate violent act, in which Henry was equally as guilty as Ricketts. The solicitor general told the court that Henry’s claims that Ricketts was the primary motivator and the killer were self serving to reduce his own culpability. Richards said his confession displays a classic response of blaming bad company, to be “led astray by a friend" for the heinous act he also committed.

She noted that, while on the one hand Henry claims to have pondered what was happening when Ricketts drove the car to Barkers and began to get worried about what was happening, his alleged concern did not prevent him from committing the violent sexual assault. Richards also pointed to the indecent images which Ricketts had on a phone in his possession, apparently from the night in question, as demonstration of his obsession about that violent act and evidence of his motivation in the crime and lack of remorse.  

“His actions were inconsistent with what he said,” she explained when she pointed the court to his confession where he claimed to be thinking one thing and doing another. She also noted Henry’s alleged conversation with Ricketts outside the car when his accomplice had first raised the idea that they must kill Soctt-Roberts in order that she would not identify the two of them to the police.

Henry says he and Ricketts were ‘reasoning’ outside the vehicle when he told Ricketts that it was not a good idea and that “we could still go to jail”. Richards said the use of “we” was a “very significant pronoun.” His description of watching Ricketts set the fire is further evidence of his continued culpability in the murder, the solicitor general noted. “It is not an indication of someone distancinghimself from what is happening,” Richards told the court, adding there was simply no evidence of withdrawl by him from the act of murder.

“His actions are not consistent with someone who did not want the death of the victim,” Richards said as she directed the court to find him, as well as Ricketts, guilty of the murder of Estella Scott-Roberts.

When it came to the crown’s case against Ricketts, Richards pointed out that he had confessed to killing the victim and that now in the court he had chosen to recant that confession, but the crown submitted that his statement was the evidence of his participation and his story now was simply not true.

The prosecutor said his claims that so much had happened by chance that his story was implausible. She said his motive was simple as it was financial gain, and he had killed Scott-Roberts so that she would not identify them and he too was guilty of murder.

On Friday the court will hear theclosing statements of Ian Bourne QC in the case for Henry and Robert Fortune QC in the case for Ricketts before the judge retires to consider his ruling.

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