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November 6, 2012

Accused: I wish to God that I could reverse that day!

The cop charged in connection with the shooting death of his colleague inside the Biabou Police Station in 2010 walked out of court a free man yesterday.{{more}}

“I am really sorry,” was Police Constable Rohan McDowall’s message for Glenor and Collingford John, parents of his fallen colleague, PC 494 Kingsley John.

This was McDowall’s comment after High Court judge Frederick Bruce-Lyle reprimanded and discharged him in connection with the August 7, 2010 crime.

“This can’t bring him back. I just wish to God that I could reverse that day,” McDowall told SEARCHLIGHT outside the High Court.

“God knows that. You can’t really comfort someone for the loss of their son … I am really sorry,” a weeping McDowall further said.

McDowall said that while in prison all he thought about was his four children and John’s young child.

Flanked by his sister Vita Franklyn and wife Arlette McDowall, McDowall said he has spoken to the mother of the deceased in the past and that she has always been forgiving.

“I am just going to take care of my children right now…” he said.

At the time of the incident, the men had just returned from a raid when they were acting out a scenario about how one would react if attacked by a civilian.

The court heard that John had a knife in his hand and that the M4 assault rifle, which McDowall held, accidentally fired a shot, killing John.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that it is police protocol that cops empty their firearms before entering police vehicles or their department and that a gun should not be pointed at someone unless the holder intends to fire it.

McDowall, who was initially charged with the murder of his Special Services Unit (SSU) colleague, pleaded guilty to manslaughter yesterday.

Bruce-Lyle said he believes that with McDowall having served nearly two years on remand, he has been punished already.

“He’s going to have to live with this for the rest of his life. I am convinced that he had no intentions of killing this man,” Bruce-Lyle said.

The parents of the deceased were called to front of the courtroom and were asked how they felt about the matter.

John’s mother, who began crying, said she had no ill feelings towards McDowall and stated that she does not know whether it was an accident.

But his father said that although he does not have any ill feelings towards McDowall, he does not believe the shooting was accidental.

McDowall’s lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Browne, told the court her client is filled with “pain”.

“They were good friends and this was an accident. The gun cranked, but it was hooked up on part of his uniform … He has really suffered and spent 16 months in jail. No good purpose can be done by sending him to jail. He is a person of impeccable character…” Bacchus-Browne said.

“He’s lost most of his salary. He’s lost his friend and most of all, he might have lost his job. I asked you to set him free…” Bacchus-Browne said.

The judge said it was the “second most difficult” case that he had to preside over in his career.

“The circumstances are such that you don’t know what to do. It is clearly an accident. There’s nothing to show that he had intentions of killing the deceased…” Bruce-Lyle said.

The judge said he believed that the deceased contributed to his own death.

“They were playing out scenarios of how they would defend oneself. What they did was a foolish and childish thing involving a knife and a firearm. Maybe he thought he had cleared the firearm.

“It was a reckless and foolish act on the part of both men. You can’t say he intentionally killed his colleague. He doesn’t deserve punishment. He’s been punished already…” Bruce-Lyle said.

He, however, stated his disappointment that as military officers, they should have known better than to point a firearm.

“I take into consideration the two years as time served. There’s no point in putting you on a suspended sentence. He’s given 10 years of service. I am not going to impose a custodial sentence, neither am I putting you on a bond. You have served enough time,” Bruce-Lyle further added.

Bruce-Lyle also urged McDowall to “make good” with the parents of John.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Michael Charles told the court that McDowall, who joined the Police Force in 2000, was a “most dedicated officer and a patriot”.