A 12-member jury, last week Friday, June 25, returned an unanimous verdict of guilty of murder in a matter involving Pedro Ashton, of Biabou. He will return to the High Court in Kingstown July 23 to hear his fate.
Ashton, 33 at the time of the incident in 2017, was charged with the death of Monique Clarke, a 44-year-old of Massey Hill, Biabou.
Clarke passed away at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital August 22, 2017, after she was reported to have been doused with gasoline, and set ablaze in an incident at her home on August 13.
Reports at the time indicated that Clarke suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 85% of her body.
Sergeant Biorn Duncan recorded a statement from her at the hospital, Wednesday August 16, 2017 but the victim was unable to sign because of the burns that had affected her.
Duncan returned to the hospital Saturday 19 accompanied by Justice of Peace Hazell who signed the statement as witness, while Duncan did so as recording officer.
Duncan had given evidence to the effect that Clarke had told him her common-law husband – Pedro Ashton – poured gasoline on her and burned her.
Besides Duncan, Crime Scene Specialist Constable Joel Williams provided evidence, including pictures of the scene.
Pathologist Dr. Ronald Child, who had conducted the post-mortem examination came under examination by the defence attorney, Michael Wyllie.
The prosecution also called one of Clarke’s sons and her sister Iesha Richardson to the stand.
Everet Thompson, a 58-year-old Biabou man also provided testimony. However, Wyllie dismissed his presentation as a “fabrication.”
Crown Counsel Rose Ann Richardson, who prosecuted, described the incident as a tragedy. She pondered about the state of our society when a woman is “incapable of saying no to a man.”
After Richardson and defence counsel Wyllie addressed the court last Thursday, presiding judge Brian Cottle, in directing the jury before they deliberated, urged them to consider all the evidence. He pointed out, inter alia, that Ashton’s refusal to testify ought not to be held against him; that he had no previous convictions and that good character was a positive feature.