A resident of the Vauxhall Senior Citizens Village was Wednesday sentenced to 20 years in prison for the “brutal and senseless” killing of fellow resident Martha Agatha Doyle.
But after taking into consideration the facts of the case as well as the time spent on remand, Sylvester Antoine Nelson, 76, has just over 11 years left to serve on his sentence.
Doyle, 69, was stabbed to death on January 21, 2019, while in the bedroom of her unit at the Christ Church community. She was stabbed 14 times in the neck and abdomen.
Nelson, a St Lucian national recently admitted to the crime and pleaded guilty to non-capital murder before Madam Justice Pamela Beckles in the No. 5 Supreme Court.
The court previously heard from Crown Counsel Danielle Mottley, that Nelson and Doyle disliked each other. Prior to the deadly incident, Nelson was seen drinking liquor at a nearby shop before he returned to the compound where he was overheard saying that Doyle was a “wicked woman”. Later that same day, a female resident at the village heard shouts of “murder, murder”. On reaching Doyle’s home she saw the bloodied victim lying on the floor as well as a knife and Nelson.
In handing down the sentence, Justice Beckles pointed to the aggravating features of the crime saying that there were no mitigating factors.
A knife was used, Nelson was armed in advance and Doyle met her death in a “brutal and coldblooded way”, the judge said.
Justice Beckles told him: “The 14 stab wounds were excessive and holy out of proportion to any provocation which you may have perceived the deceased subjected you to, in that you claimed she provoked you when she called you a ‘foreigner’ and told you to move from in front of her door. The court does not find these words sufficient to rise to the level of provocation which would result in you losing your self-control and taking the life of the deceased,” Justice Beckles said adding that the crime had taken place in Doyle’s home.
“Her sanctuary, the one place she should have felt safe and secured. You violated her home, armed with a knife which you used to inflict 14 stab wounds . . . resulting in her death. Your stated motive of provocation carries no weight whatsoever and therefore makes this a senseless murder.”
Beckles then imposed a starting sentence of 25 years in prison but gave a downwards adjustment of five years – leaving 20 years – given Nelson’s early guilty plea, his expression of remorse, accepting responsibility for the crime and the fact that he had no previous convictions and his age.
Credit was then given for the 796 days he had already spent on remand, and a third discount for his early guilty plea leaving him with 4,071 days or 11 years, 56 days to serve at Dodds.
Information compiled on the murderer showed he immigrated to Barbados in 1966 in search of a better quality of life. The father of three was granted a place at the senior citizens’ home, an independent living facility. Reports said at first he was a “quiet and friendly” person but as time progressed he was engaged in conflict with a number of housemates which resulted in him being shuffled around various housing units.
Some residents and staff at the village reported that his personality appeared to change whenever he was under the influence of alcohol or in some cases appear to display a “split personality” which involved exhibiting an “aggressive demeanour” and “uncontrollable temper”.
In her ruling, Justice Beckles strongly advised Nelson to enroll in any skills training, vocational programmes or any counselling programmes which would help with his interpersonal relationships and his integration back into society.