Murder victim Marcelle Smith was embroiled in a bitter property dispute with a relative of her husband Aurelius Smith prior to the discovery of her body last October.
Smith, 75, formerly of Congo Road, St Philip, went missing on October 12, 2015, and her decomposing body was subsequently discovered on October 24 in a ravine at Halton Plantation, St Philip. A St Philip man has since been charged in connection with her death.
Investigations carried out by Barbados TODAY, unrelated to the murder probe, have revealed that on January 5, 2015, she sent email correspondence to attorney-at-law Alicia Richards Hill of the Yearwood & Boyce Law Firm, the couple’s representatives, where she outlined details of a visit to her home by a relative of her husband, as well as a senior attorney-at-law and an on-duty police officer on December 16, 2014.
At the time, Smith revealed in her correspondence that during a discussion related to property she asked the relative about the whereabouts of about $80,000 collected over a period of time on a rented house at Clermont, St James, owned by her husband, which had not been paid into their bank account. According to documents in the possession of Barbados TODAY, Aurelius Smith, an octogenarian, was at the time suffering from dementia.
She wrote that when she quizzed the relative about the property at Clermont he told her it was none of her business. She however indicated to him that her name was on the title deed as joint owner. She also revealed she produced court documents stating that she and her son Roger Smith were joint receivers with power to manage and administer the property and affairs of her husband. According to the email correspondence, a heated verbal exchange then ensued which led to an intervention by the constable from District ‘C’ Police Station. She also alleged the relative threatened to strike her with a chair.
Barbados TODAY was able to access a certified copy of Supreme Court Order Claim No. 1427 of 2014, heard before Justice Olson Alleyne on October 23, 2014, and entered on October 27, 2014, that substantiated the late Smith’s assertions to her husband’s relative and the attorney-at-law who was present with him.
The court order stated: “The Court has accepted that Cecil Everton Aurelius Smith is a patient for the purpose of the Mental Health Act, Chapter 45 of the Laws of Barbados. Marcelle Claudia Smith and Roger Curtis Smith are appointed joint and several receivers of the patient herein, with power to manage and administer the property and affairs of the patient by reason of the fact that the said patient is incapable by reason of a mental disorder from so managing and administering his own property and affairs.”
But in a recent development since Mrs Smith’s demise, the same lawyer who accompanied the relative to her residence at Congo Road, St Philip, sent legal papers to the Yearwood & Boyce Law Firm in January, questioning the prudence of the October 2014 court order.
Barbados TODAY was also able to access a copy of that document where the lawyer purported to be the attorney of Aurelius Smith and claimed that since the court order, neither he nor the relative had been allowed access to the former Lodge School principal. The attorney also claimed in his correspondence to the Yearwood & Boyce Law Firm that he visited Aurelius Smith with the relative and they “were instructed” that he was neither served with the court proceedings nor the Supreme Court’s order.
The attorney also alleged in his letter that there was no evidence that Mr Smith’s eldest son, Alan Smith, had been served with details of the court order. The attorney-at-law nominated the eldest son to be allowed to sign on his father’s behalf and in his name, “any cheque, deed or document”, that his father was incapable of performing due to illness, accident or any other cause.
In his letter, the attorney-at-law, who is a Queen’s Counsel, stated that Roger Smith did not live in Barbados and should never have been granted power of receivership in the first place.
However, despite Aurelius Smith’s dementia, as confirmed by the Supreme Court in October 2014, in his January 12, 2016 letter to the Yearwood & Boyce Law Firm, the attorney-at-law wrote: “I must further advise you that it is my intention to visit my client [Aurelius Smith] to take further instructions from him and should be grateful for your assistance in making that visit possible.”
Aurelius Smith currently resides in a nursing home.