Parents of victims testify in court
It was an emotional day in Court No. 2 of the Supreme Court today, as three parents whose children died in the 2010 Campuz Trendz fire took to the witness stand.
Nicola Marshall, the mother of Pearl Cornelius, and Cheryl Belgrave-Webb, whose daughter Nikita Belgrave perished in the deadly blaze, both broke down in tears while giving evidence in the murder trial of Jamar Dewayne Orlando Bynoe this morning.
Bynoe of Headley’s Land, Bank Hall, St Michael is accused of murdering Shanna Griffith, Kelly-Ann Welch, Pearl Cornelius, Kellyshaw Olivierre, Nikita Belgrave and Tiffany Harding on September 3, 2010.
Under examination by Principal Crown Counsel Alliston Seale, Marshall recounted how she was at a beauty parlour on James Street, The City that Friday afternoon when she heard there was a fire in town.
After calling both her mother-in-law and her daughter and getting no response, she said she ran to Tudor Street where she saw the Campus Trendz store on fire.
It was then that Marshall began to enquire after her daughter who had been employed there part-time for two years.
“I stood outside the building waiting for her to come out but she never did,” she sadly recalled.
Marshall said she stood outside the burning building until sometime between 10 and 11 o’clock that night before finally making her way home.
She revealed that she got a call around three the following morning asking her to return to the store. On arrival there, she said she was escorted to the back of the building by a police officer, where she was asked to identify Cornelius’s lifeless body.
When it was her turn to testify, Belgrave-Webb told the court she found out about the fire while watching television.
She said she had left home and was making her way through Tudor Street when she saw the “building on fire and a lot of people had gathered”.
A teary-eyed Belgrave-Webb recalled how she stood outside the building until three o’clock the next morning. That’s when she received the awful news that her daughter, who was not employed at the time, had died in the blaze.
She said she too was escorted to the back of the building to identify the body.
Stanley Phillips, whose daughter Shanna Griffith was a sales clerk at Campus Trendz, said he went to the Tudor Street store after being told there was a fire in the area.
“When I got down there I saw the building on fire. I was standing about ten feet from the building,” he recounted.
“I could not help. I was not allowed, and the building was on fire.”
Phillips said he only left after he saw his daughter being wheeled out of the building on a stretcher. By then, she was dead.
The three parents also recalled going to the morgue of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to identify the bodies of their children prior to their autopsies on September 9, 2010.
The trial, which is being heard by Madame Justice Michelle Weekes, continues on Monday at 11:30 a.m. when police constable Elton Prescod is expected to take the stand.