The tragic death of Colleen Payne, the 58 year old day care worker who died earlier this week after she was shot during an apparent robbery at an ATM machine, has sparked outrage and reignited debate about hanging as the appropriate punishment for killing another human being in some cases.
Payne, a resident of Lodge Hill, St Michael, apparently went to the ATM at the Royal Bank branch at the bottom of University Hill to withdraw money when she was attacked. She was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital but succumbed to her injuries.
One Barbados TODAY reader suggested that carrying out public hangings, as happens in some countries, was the only effective way to tackle the problem of violent crime amid growing concern on the island about the increasing use of guns.
“The solution to the high crime is in hands of our judicial system. First, we must know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these accused are the perpetrators. Solutions to bring down the crime rate (include) a speedy trial. If found guilty of the crime, these murderers shall be transported to the central part of the city and hanged by the neck “
Another reader dismissed the suggestion as absurd. “As far as I am aware, the death penalty (hanging) is still on our books. However, it is no longer mandatory in murder cases. It is now at the judge’s discretion to impose. We wouldn’t sentence anybody to death though. We have signed on to too many conventions and we rely on these people, plus the AG said that none will be hanged under his watch.”
“I will always say if hanging is too cruel, inject them. They will all get bail and still do nonsense,” another reader commented.
The focus of others, however, was not so much on a resumption of hangings but more on what many described as the nonsensical and unfortunate death of the lady. Those expressing dismay included top officials at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), who condemned the “senseless killing”
One reader was dumbfounded as to why the attackers would want to rob anyone coming from an ATM. “You don’t even get that much money from an ATM. Some banks only allow you to withdraw $500.00 a day, then it refuses to let you withdraw anymore. Gone and kill the woman for what? To share a small amount of money between …wunna?”
Another reader expressed concern about the amount of guns entering the country. “We really need to do something about this crime. (With) the many drug raids in recent time, criminals are perhaps making up by robbing innocent people. We need to increase the stop and search for guns activities.”
“What is the Attorney General, Commissioner of Police and Prime Minister saying in all of these shootings and killings?” a commenter asked. This question was also raised by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) which called for an immediate crackdown on illegal firearms, while contending that Barbadians were feeling under siege.
Former Attorney General Dale Marshall, the Opposition Shadow Minister, called for “Government, and especially the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, to immediately set about prioritizing the fight against illegal firearms on our streets as many of the murders committed involved the use of these weapons.”
“Our Parliament does not need another debate on law and order. What Barbados needs is action on the part of the Government and we need it now, before another innocent life is taken,” Marshall said in a press statement, in which he also reiterated the Opposition’s support for “extraordinary” Government expenditure on tackling crime.”
On Thursday, it was reported that three men were assisting police in their investigations into the shooting incident. In giving praise to the lawmen for the swift action, the public was still critical of their failure to deal with the seemingly increasing gun violence.
Also on Thursday, a joint press conference was held with the Attorney-General Adriel Brathwaite and acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith where it was revealed that firearms were used in 15 of the 19 murders
so far this year, representing nearly 80 per cent of all unlawful killings.
Griffith said the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) had revamped its anti-gun unit as it wrestles with the rise in gun-related murders. “We have increased the numbers as well as retooled the personnel and that unit is now performing extremely well . . . to the extent that, with the assistance of TRU [Tactical Response Unit], the SCATS [Suppressing Criminal Activity Targeting Society] Unit as well as the CID [Criminal Investigations Department], we have been able to take some 44 firearms off the streets so far for the year,” he told the news conference.
A reader suggested, however, that the police’s effort might be a bit too late. “The violence situation in Barbados is not something that can be turned around in the short term. The weapons are already here and many are already in the hands of criminals. The police are playing wack-a-mole trying to contain the use of these weapons”.