High Court judge, Justice Brian Cottle (today) Thursday adjourned until tomorrow the sentencing of Junior Jarvis, a 50-year-old former journalist, who was last November convicted of the Feb. 14, 2016 murder of banker Randy Lawrence, 39, and several other offences.
The judge adjourned the sentencing to consider defence counsel Kay Bacchus-Baptiste’s response to sentencing submissions from the Crown, which asked the court to jail Jarvis for the rest of his life.
Jarvis is being sentenced four decades after his own father was executed for murder, and a decade after he appeared in a video saying that he would have ended up like his father had he not changed his life.
Jarvis was also convicted of one count of use of a firearm with intent to commit murder, aggravated burglary; two counts of attempted murder; abduction, assault, and use of a firearm to commit murder.
‘Instigating’ prisoners’ ‘protest’
Bacchus-Baptiste said that the social inquiry report on Jarvis was unfair and included allegations about his conduct in prison to which he was not given a chance to respond.
She said the Jan. 30, 2023 social welfare report reflects the position of several different people who the officer interviewed.
The lawyer said that His Majesty’s Prisons mentioned that Jarvis instigated other prisoners not to take meals as a form of protest.
She, however, said she found this unfair because the report does not say that the social worker put this allegation to Jarvis so that he could respond.
Bacchus-Baptiste said this is the problem that she has with some social inquiry reports and even psychological reports.
“They tend to be one-sided,” she said.
“I believe that 90% of the prisoners around there fall into that category,” the lawyer said.
She said Jarvis told her that the prisoners had had a plan not to take lunch for one day only.
“He had no part in planning it. He was told about it and that it was planned and he simply repeated the fact that this was the plan of the prisoners,” Bacchus-Baptiste told the court.
She said the protest was because of “the terrible, deplorable conditions which we all know in the prisons”.
For the prison officer to just say that Jarvis instigated prisoners not to take meals “to make it appear negative, I think it is only fair that his side of it should be told,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
“And what is more, I don’t know when protesting has become outlawed in this country,” she said, adding that if the prisoners want to mount a protest and decide not to take their own meals into their own stomachs, “I do not know why that should be singled out as being negative”.
She said it is an “absolute form of protest in all prisons for prisoners to go on a hunger strike,” the lawyer said.
The lawyer pointed out that she was told that it was only for one day, but the report does not reflect this, saying only that Jarvis instigated other prisoners not to take meals as a form of protest.
She said the report said that because of this Jarvis was “transferred”.
“So, the whole thing was to make him look as if he was not behaving well in prison so they had to transfer him.”
The lawyer said her client had given her a long answer as to what happened with the transfers.
“There were occasions when he felt he was being targeted, some of the officers accused him of murdering their friend and he had a very hard time there dealing with them,” the lawyer said, adding that if Jarvis responded, then was looked upon as if he was doing something wrong.
Bacchus-Baptiste said that prison authorities had charged Jarvis for inciting mutiny or something.
“It was heard and he won it. The change was dismissed but that does not appear in the report.”
The lawyer said it is quite “one sided and unfair that we have to rely on these reports that are not truly balanced”.
She said there were other instances that she did not want to go into, but said that Jarvis took part in the prisons public speaking competition twice and placed among the top three both times.
She said Jarvis was awarded the most-disciplined player for the prisons football competition and has been a mentor for other prisoners.
“That does not appear anywhere in the social inquiry report,” Bacchus-Baptiste said, adding that Jarvis has been helpful to other prisoners, including assisting them in making applications for bail and appeals and writing letters.
At times, he lent his baking skills to the prison bakery and has been instrumental in trying to restart the prison’s library programme.
“As I said, not a word of this appears in the report,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
Ex-girlfriend speaks highly of Jarvis
The lawyer said that the report also speaks to the impact of Jarvis’ crime on his family, adding that there were about 14 respondents to Jarvis’ character, 13 of which were positive.
She said, “Cleopatra” said she hopes the court would be lenient with Jarvis because he is a young man with much potential.
An aunt said he is “a cool, quiet and good person,” Bacchus-Baptiste quoting the report as saying, adding that this description is repeated several times by other people, including by his aunts Princess Jackson and Dianna Jackson.
The lawyer said Sophie Williams, one of Jarvis’s ex-girlfriends, described him as “a quiet, helpful, kind, private and resourceful person” and that you can depend on him at any time.
She said Williams further said Jarvis is someone who does not like confusion and likes to solve problems and she was shocked by his offences.
The lawyer said this is interesting in light of the fact that some of the offences were committed against Jarvis’ girlfriend at the time.
Regarding the impact on the family of the victim, Bacchus-Baptiste quoted Josette Smith, one of the virtual complainants, as saying that Jarvis appeared to be a calm person.
“So, you have this same sentiment being expressed throughout, even by Josette Smith who is one of the virtual complainants in this matter.”
She pointed out that Smith went on to speak about the date of the incident “and an aggressive tone.
“… So, something happened on the day of the incident,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
Regarding the impact of Jarvis’ crimes on the community, the lawyer said that Pastor Ophelia Lyttle said Jarvis was a quiet person and did not interact much.
“That is probably about the ninth person now speaking about his general demeanour, which is quiet and helpful,” the lawyer said, adding that Kenroy Boucher said Jarvis is a quiet person who he had never seen angry.
“Other community members said he was a cool person who did not say much to the community.
“Pleasant to be around”, “worked until the task was completed”, “exemplary employee”, “cooperative”, “willing”, the lawyer also quoted the report as saying.
‘a split personality’
She said there was “the one negative” which said that Jarvis had a split personality.
“Without any psychological report,” she said, adding that nowhere in the report did the psychologist say Jarvis had a split personality.
“But we have a layman telling the social worker he had a split personality and that to the effect that he was aware of it…” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
The lawyer said this was in keeping with the prosecution’s remarks that Jarvis was “this sick man; knew he was sick but applied for a gun four days before”.
She said this was “totally untrue according to the evidence but they picked out that four days before he applied for a gun”.
The lawyers argued that “this one negative” about Jarvis having a split personality is a finding that no layman can make and the court should not give any credence to it.
The lawyer said in the conclusion of the report, the social workers said that Jarvis said he was sorry.
“That is the only place we see a little where it came out,” the lawyer told the court, adding that Jarvis was very disappointed when he read the report “because he expressed his remorse in many ways”.
She said such was his disappointment that he wrote a letter expressing it.
“I just see it here ‘and he was sorry’,” Bacchus-Baptiste said, adding that her client was very disappointed that his remorse was only reflected in the conclusion.
The lawyer said that the state requisitions and pays for such reports “and sometimes, you tend to get little biases coming forward”.
She said in the conclusion of the report, all 14 people who said good things about Jarvis was put into one paragraph and the one person who spoke negatively was put into two or three paragraphs.
“So, when you read it, it’s not balanced,” Bacchus-Baptiste, said.
She told the court that the most unacceptable part of the report was the social worker merely adopting the statements made by the victims to the DPP’s office without saying she had read and adopted them.
“She actually writes about what she said, making them her own words and her own social report on these people. That was unacceptable,” Bacchus-Baptiste said, adding that it was only in the last paragraph that the social worker said that she was not able to interview the victims.
“I don’t think this is acceptable in a social welfare report. I think there should be more balanced statements and that if something is said about the accused, he should be given an opportunity to ask him so he can respond.”
The lawyer said there are a number of negative things in the report which could have been put forward or explained in a more balanced way.
“Be that as it may, it was still a positive social welfare report,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
Victims qualified to speak of psychological effect of crime?
She said that regarding the victim impacts she did not know what qualifies a victim to say what is their psychological effect.
“I understand emotional impact but without anybody analysing them, they have a whole big page, the bulk of the report, about the psychological impact on them and their mental state,” the lawyer said.
She said that the report did discuss trauma, something with which she had no problem, and the financial impact.
Most of what the widow and other victims said is what is expected, the lawyer said, adding that it must have been a traumatic experience for all of the victims.
“There was on medical report to say anybody was psychologically impaired as a result …” Bacchus-Baptiste told the court, adding that for what it is worth, the court would take into account that it is just the victim’s words.
“Some of them are asking for vengeance, some of them are more balanced,” she said, adding that Pompey, Jarvis’ girlfriend at the time and whom he attempted to murder, said in the report a number of things that were not in evidence.
“Of course, she expressed delight that he was found guilty,” the lawyer.
“And, I hope in future, the defendant would be given a chance to respond to some of the allegations made,” she said.
The lawyer said that the social worker doesn’t have to say who made them, adding that in any event, it would be said in the report that comes to the court.
She said that had she not asked Jarvis about some of the allegations made against him in prison, she would have gone away with the impression that “he was a bad inmate”.
‘truth and facts could be different’
Meanwhile, on the question of sentencing, Bacchus-Baptiste said that the defence took umbrage at the starting point suggested by the Crown.
She said the Crown should consider a number of things before the seriousness of the offence could be considered exceptionally high.
Bacchus-Baptiste said she did not agree that the crimes involved a substantial degree of planning as would be required for there to be premedication and planning.
She said the Crown was basing this on the claim that Jarvis applied for the firearm four days before his crimes.
The lawyer said the court has record that he had applied for a firearm more than a year before the crime.
She said that saying Jarvis got the firearm four days before “is factually correct but is not the substantive truth.
“And that is how truth and facts could be different,” the lawyer told the court.
She asked the court to consider a determinate sentence and not a whole of life.
The lawyer further argued that contrary to the prosecution’s submission, there were mitigating features of the offence, adding that Jarvis had attempted to get away from Lawrence three times by crossing the street.
The lawyer said every time Jarvis crossed the road Lawrence did the same.
She further said that Jarvis was provoked by Lawrence confronting him in public and calling him “horrible names”.
She said there were “blatant mistakes by the prosecution” in telling the court that in every unfriendly exchange between Jarvis and Lawrence, Jarvis was the aggressor and initiator.
Bacchus-Baptiste said this was “absolutely untrue” by the evidence of the defence who said Lawrence approached Jarvis at Chill Spot.
She said she did not know where this came from in the prosecution’s mind, “except looking for vengeance. It is not true,” Bacchus-Baptiste said, adding that the evidence would be there for any court of appeal to see what the prosecution witness said.
The lawyer also said she took umbrage at the prosecution’s submission that the crime was committed in public view, adding that there was no witness who witnessed any of the offences.
“I think it is pushing, again, to find every little single thing that they can possibly find to aggravate against the accused in this matter.”
The lawyer asked the court “not to take away hope.
“Where there is life, according to the accused and many others, there is hope,” she said and asked the court not to impose a life sentence on Jarvis.
She further asked the court that should it opt for a determinate sentence not to go to the highest level because it would amount to a life sentence.
On Nov. 28, 2022, a jury of four men and eight women deliberated for three hours and five minutes before finding Jarvis guilty of murder in connection with the Feb. 14, 2017 shooting death Lawrence, at Arnos Vale.
The jury returned unanimous verdicts on charges that:
- on Feb. 14, 2017, at Arnos Vale, Jarvis used a firearm to aid in the commission of the offence, to wit the murder of Randy Lawrence;
- on Feb. 14, 2017, at Arnos Vale, Jarvis entered the dwelling house of Josette Smith as a trespasser, and at the time had with him a weapon of offence, to wit a gun;
- on Feb. 14, 2017, at Arnos Vale, Jarvis attempted to murder Josette Smith;
- on Feb. 14, 2017, at Arnos Vale, Jarvis abducted Arisha Pompey;
- on Feb. 14, 2017, at Arnos Vale, Jarvis assaulted Arisha Pompey causing actual bodily harm; and,
- on Feb. 14, 2017, at Arnos Vale, Jarvis used a firearm to aid in the abduction of Arisha Pompey.
There was an 11-1 guilty verdict on the charge that on Feb. 14, 2017, at Arnos Vale, he attempted to murder Pompey.
Ronnia Durham-Balcombe also appeared for the defense at the trial, while the Crown was represented by Director of Public Prosecution, Sejilla McDowall and Crown Counsel Renee Simmons and Richie Maitland.