Life times six
Twenty days before the second anniversary of the Campus Trendz tragedy, one of the perpetrators was today slapped with six life sentences.
Renaldo Anderson Alleyne, 21, of Prescod Bottom, Hindsbury Road, St. Michael, who confessed last year to unlawfully killing Tiffany Harding, Kellishaw Olivierre, Kelly-Ann Welch, Shanna Griffith, Nikkita Belgrave and Pearl Amanda Cornelius on September 3, 2010, was sentenced by Madame Justice Elneth Kentish in the No. 2 Supreme Court this morning.
The sentences will run concurrently.
The judge said that the crime was so serious that only a custodial sentence was warranted and the nature and circumstances surrounding it were of a type that would draw life sentences.
Alleyne, who was 20 years old at the time of the horrific tragedy that engulfed the entire country in grief, anger and shock, was originally charged with murdering the girls who worked in the City store, but pleaded not guilty to those charges.
“He’s always been very remorseful”, said his attorney Verla Depeiza, who noted that her client had pleaded guilty as soon as he could.
She also noted that the crime was unprecedented as Barbados had never experienced an incident such as that one and hopefully never will again, and therefore the sentences had to speak to that.
“It was not unexpected nor is it unwelcomed because if he had got a lengthy sentence there would have been no possibility of commuting it to anything. Whereas life sentences have to be reviewed every four years, that is not to say he will get out in four years … but at least he has that option, no disrespect to the families …,” the attorney said.
Alleyne’s relatives were not in the court for today’s sentencing.
The facts of the case, which were outlined last year, indicated three of the victims who were Campus Trendz employees, were in the store when Alleyne walked in demanding money. Frightened, some of the women ran to the back of the store, locking themselves in the
bathroom and storeroom. Out front, the store owner and her daughter were trying to open the cash register on demand. But frustrated, Alleyne threw the first molotov cocktail to the front of the store. Soon after the cash register was opened and he took as much money as he could before throwing the second molotov cocktail towards the back of the store then making good his escape.
By the time the fire was brought under control, the bodies of the six women were found huddled together in the store’s bathroom and store rooms. They died from asphyxiation as a result of smoke inhalation.
Days later Alleyne was held by police as his actions had been caught on tape by a store surveillance camera. He was also identified by a former schoolmate while running from the scene.