The mother of the young St Mary mason who was viciously murdered by his drinking partner in 2017 rejoiced on Tuesday that her son’s killer was sent to prison for at least 27 years after receiving a life sentence.
The confessed killer, 36-year-old Bastene Gillespie, was sentenced for the gruesome May 17 murder of 23-year-old Theodore ‘Theo’ James, who was shot and stabbed to death in Gayle in the parish.
The unrepentant convict, who had previously chopped James in the head in a 2016 incident, fracturing his skull, executed James in order to avoid compensating him for his injuries.
James was killed a day before he was to attend a mediation session in Port Maria stemming from the parish court case that he had with Gillispie who was charged with wounding with intent.
The St Mary shoemaker and father of four, who appeared nonchalant during his sentencing hearing in the Home Circuit Court, was ordered to serve 27 years before being considered for parole.
Justice Simone Wolfe-Reece also sentenced the killer to five years for illegal possession of a firearm and one year for illegal possession of ammunition. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Following his sentencing, James’ teary-eyed mother, Hortense Barrett Gordon, relayed the news to family members via telephone outside the Supreme Court.
“Him get life!” she was overheard gleefully sharing.
“I have been waiting for this so long. All his family and friends were waiting for this so long now – five years and six months. I am happy, all his brothers, cousins, and uncles going to be so happy for this sentence,” Barrett Gordon said.
“He has taken our loved one from us and we were just waiting for this sentence and I am glad that he get what he deserved.”
The mother said the killer robbed her of a piece of her heart when he killed one of her four sons, who she described as hardworking, genuine, and jovial.
“He shouldn’t have killed him that way. He could have come to me as a mother and let we talk about it,” said Barrett Gordon, whose grief was still palpable.
‘Theo’, or ‘Queenie Boy’, as he was affectionately called, was found lying in a pool of blood along a riverbank with gunshot wounds and gashes to the neck, chest, face, and shoulder.
The post-mortem report, however, revealed that he died from the wound to his neck.
Gillespie and two of his friends, Dwayne Mills and Patrick Hylton, who later became Crown witnesses, had travelled to Gayle where Gillespie and Hylton waited for James.
Hylton, in his statement, said that James was chased and shot while begging for his life.
He said that after James was shot and fell into a gully, Gillespie returned saying, “Mission accomplished,” after going after James without the gun.
Mills, in his statement, said Gillespie boasted to him, saying, “About million stab mi give him.”
He further shared that Gillespie had threatened to kill James months before the incident, even though James had continued to support Gillespie’s shop after the chopping incident and they would often sit and drink rum together.
“You know say da bwoy yah fi dead,” Mills recalled Gillespie saying on one occasion when James had stopped by his shop.
The witness said although he encouraged Gillespie to “pay the youth the money”, Gillespie kept on saying, “Time a di master. A just time do tings.”
The two witnesses were also charged with misprision of felony and were previously sentenced after they pleaded guilty under a plea deal.
Misprision of felony is a crime that occurs when someone knows a felony has been committed but fails to inform the authorities.
The murder stemmed from a 2016 incident in which Gillespie had chopped James in his head over a dispute over $20.
Both men were attending mediation in the incident when the crime was committed. It was reported that James had indicated that he wanted $200,000.
But his mother said: “One of the times I heard he was saying him nah give him nothing before him give dat deh [expletive redacted] any money, him murder him.”
She said she had advised her son to report the threat.
Barrett Gordon also shared that she had heard the gunshots on the night of the incident. She had wondered if it was her son who had been shot as she anxiously awaited his return home that night.
Meanwhile, Justice Wolfe-Reece, who described the killer as callous, said Gillespie showed “scant regard for the mediation process” and further concluded that he was remorseless.
“ We must be able to have differences with people in our community and resolve those issues without going down the road of physical harm,” she remarked.
In handing down the sentence, while crediting the killer for his good community report and the fact that he had been gainfully employed, Justice Wolfe-Reece said she could not ignore the prevalence of murder in society and the premeditated use of the firearm.
Gillespie was given a 15 per cent discount for his guilty plea. Six years was also shaved off his sentence for time spent in custody.
After the sentencing, the judge urged Gillespie to productively use his time to become rehabilitated.
Attorney-at-law Ian Davis represented Gillespie, while Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Syleen O’Gilvie and Crown Counsel Vanessa Campbell appeared for the prosecution.