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35 Years For Attempting To Murder Three Men

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

ACTING Supreme Court Chief Justice Estelle Gray-Evans yesterday sentenced Doyle Mackey to 35 years in prison for the attempted murders of three men at a cemetery in East Grand Bahama three years ago.

The judge noted that Mackey - who admitted to being a drug dealer and firing shots at the men in self-defence at his trial - showed no remorse and failed to accept responsibility for the part he played in causing serious injuries to the complainants who could have lost their lives that day, along with two other men who were murdered at the McLean's Town Cemetery on November 3, 2016.

At his sentencing, Justice Evans imposed a 35 year prison sentence on Mackey for the attempted murder of Jermaine Ferguson aka "Jenkins", 35 years for the attempted murder of John Edgecombe aka "Rasta", and 35 years for the attempted murder of Joshua Williams.

She said the sentences are to run concurrently starting from the day of conviction on May 9, less any time spent on remand before his conviction.

After the sentence was passed, Mackey's attorney Carlson Shurland did not address the court, but informed The Tribune outside the courtroom that he intends to file an appeal in the Court of Appeal.

Mackey, who was wearing dark shades, showed no emotion as he was escorted from the courtroom by officers.

The 47-year-old convict was on trial in May for the murders of brothers Carlos and Carlton Hamilton, and the attempted murders of Ferguson, Edgecombe, and Williams. The jury returned a hung verdict on the murders, but found Mackey guilty 11-1 for the attempted murders.

Before passing sentence, Justice Evans said that she reviewed the evidence taken at the trial, as well as the convict's probation and psychiatric reports, and evidence given by a probation officer at the sentencing hearing, in addition to counsel's pleas in relation to the convict, and reviewed and considered the authorities cited and pleas made by the Crown.

She noted that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors, indicating that Mackey had a previous conviction for an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, and had used a firearm in the current case for which he was convicted.

"Mr Mackey admits to firing shots at the driver of the van but in self-defence, which was rejected by the jury. He left the scene of the crime and did not report the incident. While Mackey had been seen on the scene and fired shots at persons in the van, he maintains it was self-defence and has not admitted any responsibility for the injuries suffered by the complainants nor has he shown any remorse for the injuries caused."

She further said: "The proliferation of the offences involving drugs and the use of firearms in The Bahamas is also, in my mind, an aggravating factor.

"The fact that Mr Mackey was 45 years old when he committed the offence, the seriousness of the offence, but for the grace of God three more persons could have lost their lives that day."

She noted that although Mackey, who was convicted of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition 27 years ago (at age 20), for which he was fined $2,000 or six months' imprisonment, it did not serve as a deterrent.

The judge believes that while the sentence of the previous conviction may have fulfilled the purpose of retribution, it had "very little or no effect in the areas of prevention, deterrence, or rehabilitation," having regard for the offences which Mackey now stands convicted of.

Justice Evans stated that the offence of attempted murder is a serious one, and Mackey has been convicted of having attempted to kill three persons, albeit during the same incident.

She noted that under Section 294 of the Penal Code any person who attempts to commit murder shall be liable to imprisonment for life.

The Judge indicated that consequently, the maximum sentence that the Supreme Court could impose on Mackey is life imprisonment.

She noted that while the sentence ought to punish and hopefully deter others, rehabilitation is also a consideration when imposing a sentence.

"I am also mindful that rehabilitation requires an acknowledgment of a need to be rehabilitated. It requires an acknowledgment that one has done something wrong."

"In this case, it appears from the probation report and the evidence of the probation officer that the convict does not accept the responsibility that he did anything wrong and maintains he acted in self-defence.

She noted that while he regrets the lapse of judgment that allowed him to revert to drug peddling, Mackey does not accept the part he played in causing serious injuries to the three men.

"Having regard for all the circumstances in the case, including the nature and seriousness of the crime, and the manner in which they were perpetrated, the evidence at trial, the probation report, the wishes of counsels, the law and authorities cited, the sentencing and other guidelines given in earlier cases, the mitigating and aggravating factors, the latter of which I find to outweigh the former, including the convict's lack of remorse, I sentence Mackey to 35 years imprisonment for the attempted murders of Jermaine Ferguson aka "Jenkins" 35 years' imprisonment for the attempted murder of John Edgecombe aka "Rasta," and 35 years' imprisonment for the attempted murder of Joshua Williams."

Outside the courtroom, Mr Shurland said that the sentence was in line with the sentencing guidelines, but expressed concerns about the trial and proper vetting of jurors.

"The words I want to use would cause me to be in contempt, he said, when asked his feelings about the outcome of his client's sentence. This was the most messed up trial I ever been in."

"First of all, it so contradictory and it's a problem to charge somebody with the same set of facts of killing two persons and wounding three others, finding a mistrial on the murders and then finding him guilty on the attempted murders - it just does not make sense. Either they find him guilty of murder and attempted murder, or not guilty or a mistrial on both, but it does not make sense."

Mr Shurland said: "We also know there is a major issue with two jurors on that trial that were not qualified to be jurors because one was a convicted drug dealer and spent time in prison."

"We intend to challenge that and we intend to make a formal complaint that they ( the court) need to do better vetting of jurors, but there is a problem with the jury pool."

Mr Shurland stated that the Jurors Act says who is eligible and who is not eligible (to serve on the jury). "They ought to do their background check and they would know… that a drug dealer should not be a part of the jury."

"But the only relief Mr Mackey can get is at the Court of Appeal which we intend to file as soon as possible," he said.

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