St Lucia trial for British man’s murder held up by chaotic court renovations
Five years after a British yachtsmen was murdered in St Lucia, renovation chaos at the Caribbean island’s criminal court means there is still no date set for the trial of his alleged killers.
Roger Pratt, 63, was beaten until he suffered brain damage and pushed over the side of his boat and left to drown in January 2014, during what was supposed to be a dream voyage with his wife.
Four young St Lucian men were quickly arrested and confessed to the killing but a vast backlog of criminal cases on the island means that their trial has still not been scheduled.
The backlog has only grown worse as St Lucia’s main criminal court has been shut since April amid a dispute over renovations, leaving thousands of St Lucians and foreigners waiting for justice.
Margaret Pratt, Mr Pratt’s 64-year-old widow, told The Telegraph she felt “helpless and frustrated with the lack of progress”.
“I just don’t understand why a case that should be an open and shut, with signed confessions and strong forensics, should still be outstanding after five years,” she said.
“To add to the already intolerable delays, this year the country’s criminal courts have been closed for nine months.”
During several minutes of struggle onboard the boat, Mrs Pratt was injured and her husband was killed. A pathologist determined that he had drowned after being severely beaten.
The Royal St Lucia Police Force arrested four young men – Richie Kern, Fanis Joseph, Jermoine Jones, and Kervin Devaux – and charged them with murder. They have been held in prison since 2014 but still have no date for trial.
Part of the problem is the building which houses the criminal division of St Lucia’s high court has been closed since April after court staff protested over lax security measures. What was supposed to be a temporary closure for renovations has now stretched on for nine months.
“At an individual level, everyone is committed to getting the case to trial. But at every stage some minor impediment seems to interrupt these best efforts and promises aren’t delivered,” she said.
“I don’t think anyone knows what to do to speed up the process. It feels like a case of chronic failure.”