By Kemarlie Durrant
After being briefly involved in prison ministry in 2010, former journalist, Junior Jarvis has found himself sentenced to a lifetime at the institution where he formerly witnessed.
On November 28, 2022, Jarvis was found guilty of the murder of banker, Randy Lawrence; and on March 10, he was sentenced to life in prison.
High Court judge, Brian Cottle said the murder was pre-meditated, unprovoked on the day in question, and the convict was not remorseful.
Handing down sentence at the High Court in Kingstown last week Friday, March 10, Cottle said Jarvis showed no remorse while he was being tried for the murder of Lawrence, who was shot and killed on February 14, 2017 at Arnos Vale.
Justice Cottle noted that on the murder charge, the prosecution had not sought the death penalty. He said that the murder was not one of the worst of the worst and, therefore, did not merit the death penalty.
As he reflected on the facts of the case, Cottle said there was a “substantial degree of pre-meditation” involved in the murder.
The judge said Jarvis had sufficient time to “cool off” from an encounter he had had with Lawrence the night before the murder. However, Jarvis returned the next morning, parked his vehicle some distance away and returned to where Lawrence’s vehicle was parked.
He said Jarvis took time to pose and photograph himself near Lawrence’s vehicle which had been left at a car park in the vicinity of where an event had been held the night before.
Cottle also noted that Jarvis had been prevented by the presence of the police and other persons from carrying out his desire the previous night, and as a result, he returned the next morning to where Lawrence’s car was parked and waited.
The judge said that Jarvis may not have applied for a firearm licence intending to commit murder, but after he received his licence he obtained a gun and he decided to use it.
Cottle said he considered the fact that the offence was committed on a public road in a residential/commercial district an aggravating factor.
He also noted that there is a church in the immediate vicinity where Lawrence was murdered.
Cottle pointed out that the defence counsel submitted that there was no evidence that anyone witnessed the shooting so as to have been traumatised by it.
However, the judge said he is of the view that it was entirely possible that other road users who were present could have been injured or killed.
Cottle noted as well that Jarvis, in his own testimony, said that in the vicinity where he shot Lawrence he had walked past two men, and when Lawrence was shot, he was running in the direction of those two men.
Jarvis had told the jury that Lawrence had reached for a gun to shoot at him first, and he tried to avoid confrontation. However, the jury did not believe this and they found that Lawrence did not provoke Jarvis on the day of his murder.
The judge said there were no mitigating factors of the offence.
Also working against Jarvis was the fact that he has a previous conviction for assaulting a woman causing her actual bodily harm.
Cottle said while this conviction was seven years before the murder, it shows that Jarvis has a history of committing acts of violence.
There were no mitigating factors in relation to Jarvis.
The judge said that Jarvis’s expression of remorse was only on the day before sentencing when he addressed the court.
“His expression of remorse ranked hollow to me as he seems to still not accept the responsibility for his actions …” the judge said.
In handing down the sentence, Cottle said paragraph four of the sentencing guidelines states that where the offender was an adult when he committed the offence, the appropriate starting point is a whole life sentence.
No upward adjustments in the sentence were made as a life sentence was determined for the starting point.
There were also no adjustments for an early guilty plea and while Jarvis has already spent five years and 11 months on remand this will not be deducted from his sentence as this is only done if the starting point is a determinate sentence.
Cottle highlighted that in the absence of a Parole Act in St. Vincent and the Grenadines Jarvis will have to be sentenced to life.
The judge said convicted offenders retain their humanity, adding that it is his view that the court must be able to review such sentences after specified intervals to assess whether the aims of sentences are attained.
Jarvis, who turns 51 this year will be eligible for a review of his sentence after he has served 30 years.
At that time, he will be taken back to court to be assessed as to whether he is sufficiently rehabilitated to be released from prison. If he is deemed not sufficiently rehabilitated, he will be re-evaluated after a further three years.
SEARCHLIGHT has learnt that Jarvis has indicated a desire to appeal both the conviction and the sentence.
A 12 member jury comprising four men and eight women, found Jarvis guilty of the murder of the then 39-year-old Lawrence after three hours of deliberation.
Apart from murder, the jury also unanimously found Jarvis guilty on six other charges.
For one charge, that of attempting to murder Arisha Pompey, the jury did not reach a unanimous decision, but by a 11-1 decision Jarvis was found guilty.
He was sentenced on the other charges which will run concurrently with his life sentence.
He was sentenced to 18 years and nine months for using a firearm to commit murder.
In addition, he was sentenced to two years and six months for abducting Arisha Pompey, and five years for assaulting her and causing her actual bodily harm.
Additionally, he was sentenced to 15 years for aggravated burglary after he entered the home of Josette Smith as a trespasser with a firearm.
Meanwhile, Hyacinth Lawrence, the mother of Randy Lawrence is still crying for her son.
“I want my son back, just give me Randy back; that is the only way I will be satisfied,” the grieving mother told SEARCHLIGHT last Saturday, March 11.
“Anytime I see Randy in front of me, that I will be able to hug him, I will feel good.
“If anybody could give me back Randy, I will be okay but right now I am still not okay,” the weeping mother stated.
Lawrence, who resides in the North Central Windward constituency, recalled that she “almost went crazy” when she heard that her son had been shot and killed.
“Randy was not sick, and just like that, he lost his life for nothing, just like that,” the mother lamented.
The Junior Jarvis trial was prosecuted by Director of Public Prosecutions, Sejilla McDowall, Crown Counsel Renee Simmons, and Richie Maitland.
Jarvis was represented by Kay Bacchus-Baptiste and Ronnia Durham-Balcombe.
On March 16, SEARCHLIGHT was reliably informed that Jarvis had stated his desire to appeal both his conviction and life sentence.