By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A 29-year-old man has been sentenced to a decade in prison for beating a 50-year-old man to death with a cement block because he slapped his mother.
Justice Gregory Hilton sentenced Devon Strachan to 10 years in prison concerning the January 1, 2017, death of Benjamin Rolle.
However, Strachan’s sentence was reduced to seven years, seven months and three days to reflect the two years, four months and four days he has spent on remand.
According to a witness statement dated January 3, 2017, Rolle lived on Peter Street and was a “known alcoholic”.
The witness said a few months prior, a woman who used to sleep in a garbage bin across the street from Minnis Service Station on Market Street moved in with Rolle.
The witness said to the best of his knowledge, that woman had two sons: Strachan, and an older son who sold water with her on Baillou Hill Road near the National Insurance Board who appeared to be “slow-minded”.
According to the witness, sometime in the last week of November 2016, while walking home from work, he observed Rolle standing at the front door of his home on Peter Street, with another male angrily grabbing him by his shirt collar.
The witness said he heard when Rolle told the man, “Bey ease up.” The witness said he subsequently ran over to the pair to see if he could be of any assistance because he knew Rolle was not a fighter and was also sick.
He said as he got close, he noticed the man who had Rolle by the collar was Strachan, who he said used to date someone named “Fly Man’s” niece.
According to the witness, Strachan, while brandishing a piece of a cement block in his right hand, told Rolle to “slap me like you slap my mother”. The witness said Strachan subsequently slapped Rolle to the right side of his head with the block.
Rolle began to stumble and stagger and again shouted “ease up”, the witness said. He said he tried to help by telling Strachan “stop that settled, Ben can’t do anything”. However, he said Strachan didn’t listen and again slapped Rolle with the block.
After that blow, Rolle fell backwards and stumbled into his house, colliding with two partitions along the way, before falling to the floor, the witness said. He said it was at that point he noticed Strachan’s mother sitting in the house along with Strachan’s brother. He said they seemed shocked but didn’t say anything.
The witness said Strachan subsequently picked up a bucket that was in Rolle’s home and began to beat the man about the body with it. The witness said Strachan also grabbed a piece of the partition that was on the floor and beat Rolle with it.
The witness said Strachan eventually stopped beating Rolle, walked out the door and slammed it. A few seconds later, he said Strachan’s mother opened the door. He said Rolle subsequently stumbled to the door but “fell out”.
The witness said Rolle sprawled out on the floor in the doorway and appeared to be passed out. He said Rolle stayed there for hours until an ambulance came, along with an officer from the Quakoo Street police station.
The witness said he knew Rolle was admitted to hospital, but later learned that he had died.
On January 23, 2017, Strachan was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt with murdering Rolle.
However, The Tribune understands the charge was downgraded to causing dangerous harm following certain negotiations with the Crown.
Stanley Rolle from the Office of the Public Defender represented Strachan. Joel Seymour represented the Crown in the matter.