Boyfriend of Campus Trendz victim witnessed deadly attack
The boyfriend of one of the six young women who perished in the Campus Trendz fire six years ago, today recalled going inside the burning building to look for his girlfriend and not finding her.
Jeremy Downes, whose girlfriend was Nikita Belgrave, said the last time he saw her alive was when she went into the Tudor Street store and she was cheerful at the time.
Downes was testifying in the trial of Jamar Dewayne Bynoe, of Headley’s Land, Bank Hall, St Michael, who is accused of murdering the six young women on September 3, 2010.
The deceased are Shanna Griffith,
Kelly-Ann Welch, Pearl Cornelius, Kellishaw Olivierre, Nikita Belgrave and Tiffany Harding.
The case is being heard in the No. 2 Supreme Court before Justice Michelle Weekes. Principal Crown Counsel Alliston Seale is appearing on the Crown’s behalf while accused Bynoe is representing himself.
The witness told the court today that on September 3, 2010 he travelled from Shop Hill, St Thomas to Bridgetown to meet some friends and to pick up his son.
He went to a few places in The City before going to Campus Trendz on Tudor Street, still accompanied by his son. Once they got there, his son went inside as well as Nikita Belgrave, while he waited on the outside. His son came out a while after.
Other people were going in and out of the store while he was still on the outside, Downes said. It was during that time, he said he saw some of them run out shouting not to go inside because the building was being robbed and was burning.
The witness said he went into the store to see if he could find Nikita; once inside, he saw clothes burning and people running out.
Downes said he also saw two men robbing the cashier; they had their faces covered and were wielding knives and demanding cash. He then went round to the back of the building to look for his girlfriend.
He recalled then running to the store next door, borrowing a fire extinguisher and returning to the burning building. Downes said he entered the store and used the extinguisher, all the while calling for Belgrave.
There was a lot of fire and smoke and screams were coming from the back of the building, the witness said.
Under cross-examination by accused Bynoe, the witness said although he told police he saw two men robbing the store and he gave them their estimated heights, he never gave police a description of their clothes.
Another witness, Glendene Welch, mother of fire victim Kelly-Ann Welch, said she identified her daughter’s body while it lay on tarpaulin at Tudor Street. There were five other bodies there at the time, she remembered.
Ambulance driver Michael Waltress, who is a Red Cross volunteer, recalled that on the day of the fire, he and others were at an event at the National Stadium. He heard from his colleague Aldo Babb that there was a fire in Bridgetown and as a result, he, Babb and Nadia Best went to Tudor Street.
The witness said that when he reached there and heard that persons were trapped inside, he offered his assistance. He later put one of the young women whose name he did not know, in the back of his ambulance.
Waltress also said he never checked her condition because he was more focused on getting her to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
When he reached the QEH, Waltress said he left the woman in Babb’s care since he was more experienced. Babb also spoke to a doctor that evening.
In response to questions from the accused, Waltress said he was not sure of the exact time Babb informed him about the fire but he knew it was after 7 p.m.
Asked whether the female died in the ambulance or subsequently, the driver said he was not sure. The case is expected to continue tomorrow.