A family’s lengthy grief to find justice

THE gruesome 2018 murder of 63-year-old Delroy Walker is still a sore point for his family as they wait infuriatingly for justice to be served.

Walker, who left Jamaica for the United Kingdom at 11, returned to the island in 2018 and was building his post-retirement dream house in Tower Isle, St Mary. His wife, Pauline, was expected to join him in a matter of weeks.

But on April 18, 2018, mere months after his return, tragedy struck when Walker was stabbed to death inside the house. His body was found a day later.

Two men, 25-year-old Dwayne Barton, and 25-year-old Davian Edwards, also called Ganja Man, were charged with Delroy’s murder. Both men are from Stewart Town in St Mary

“My brother’s life was cruelly taken. He always loved Jamaica. If he could get to Jamaica when he was able to earn and have money… if he could do it three times a year, he was there three times a year. And so, he was coming up to his retirement and he brought a beautiful house over in St. Mary. My brother had this immense love for Jamaica,” his brother, Steve Walker told the Jamaica Observer in an interview last Wednesday.

“And within months of him having the house, his life was cruelly taken inside the house, which was a complete shock. It was just a few months of Delroy having the house in Jamaica and started to do the renovations that he was brutally murdered in the house,” Steve continued.

Four years later, the family thought a trial would’ve begun on December 7, 2022.

It felt like a slap in the face to the family of 10 who had travelled from the United States and the United Kingdom, expending millions of dollars for travel and accommodation, only to find out that the two accused didn’t have attorneys.

As a result, the matter was pushed back to March 2023. Subsequently, the family was notified that the case won’t be relisted until July, 2023.

“We didn’t even get a chance to go inside the court. We were sitting outside and we got there early. And the clerk told me that we need to come back in March 2023. We travelled thousands of miles to be here for a court session. And you’re now coming outside these doors, outside the court and telling me that I’ve got to come back in 2023? All those arrangements and time off from work,” he lamented.

“It cost us $6 million to travel here because this is an important thing and we want to seek justice. And then the clerk goes, ‘it’s not that long to wait and it won’t be too expensive.’ I just lost it, because we made all the alterations and save up the finances to get to Jamaica, for the clerk to tell me wait until 2023. That was a punch below the belt by the system, and that was one punch that I didn’t need to take that day,” Steve told the Sunday Observer.

He continued: “I travelled all the way with my family, all that money, all that expense, all that time, all that hope of seeing justice play out, and it crumbled within two and a half minutes. We knew that we weren’t going to get justice in Jamaica.”

The police had reported that Delory was killed a few days after an altercation with Barton and Edwards over work that had been done to his house. He had reportedly been dissatisfied with the work done and refused to pay the agreed amount, which fuelled the dispute.

Residents reportedly noticed a trail of blood leading from the house about 9:15 am on April 19 and summoned the police, who found the 63-year-old’s body with multiple stab wounds.

Jackie Ward, Delroy’s sister, told the Sunday Observer that the tragic end to her brother’s life and the prolonged road to justice were indescribable.

“I’m not really sure what the word to use in this situation is. Those that have perpetrated the crime need to be punished, be brought to trial and be punished for the crime. My brother didn’t need to die when he died. He wasn’t sick, he wasn’t ill. He did not need to die. You took a man’s life and therefore, you need to be brought to justice,” she said.

Ward stressed that the delay is not only costly, but one that exacerbates the emotional impact of the loss.

“It’s not just for us. The people of Jamaica need to see that justice is being done, where crimes are committed. We don’t understand it. There are lots of unanswered questions. I don’t know what may come out and what may not come out, but we don’t know what happened, why it happened. We don’t know if they’re (accused) remorseful or not. But obviously, if you’ve got unanswered questions, then it doesn’t help you with closure because it’s always there,” Ward said.

The Sunday Observer obtained a copy of a letter that Delroy’s family directed to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on Monday, January 2, 2023.

The letter, addressed to DPP Paula Llewellyn, began, “It is with great regret and disappointment that I find myself in the position of having to contact you on behalf of my family regarding the murder trial of my late brother, Mr Delroy Walker. The issue which I would like you to address and respond to is the acceptably long delay in setting trial dates, and the subsequent delays that can be experienced once a trial date has been scheduled as in our recent experience.”

The family also requested an overview of the judicial process and why it has taken over four years for Delroy’s case to be given an initial trial date, why the defendants were brought to court with attorneys and what reassurances the office of the DPP is able to provide so that when called up again, Delroy’s case can progress smoothly among others.

Ward informed the Sunday Observer that within a matter of days, the Office of the DPP responded to the letter.

“They have responded and they want to have a convo. We haven’t spoken to them yet. They just responded to say they would like to meet with us. That’s positive. And I’m pleased that they have. But we haven’t met with them yet. We’re just waiting for their response,” she said.

Meanwhile, Steve recalled learning of his brother’s murder. He was leaving the gym when he saw that he had missed multiple calls from his siblings. He noted to himself that Delroy wasn’t among those calls, but didn’t think much of it.

The phone rang again, and one of his sisters told him, “I’ve got some bad news.”

Steve said he boarded a train and told her he knew something happened, and didn’t want to know until he got home. He asked to be spared 20 minutes – the longest 20 minutes of his life, he said.

“Even though I didn’t know what had happened, I just knew something had happened. And I got home after 20 minutes and my sister told me that Dell has been murdered. And the first thought that came to my mind was ‘Who? Why?’ He was the person for the people. If he could help you to do whatever he could, he would do it,” he told the Sunday Observer.

“I was in total shock and bewilderment. And I just I just didn’t know what to do. I’ve never experienced anything of this nature.”

Steve commended the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), however, for swift action in locating and charging suspects.

“Within three months, the two men were charged. There are officers I know from my personal experience, who are doing the job because the job needs to be done, and done right. And there are officers that I’ve met since my time in Jamaica, who are there to do a job for the people of Jamaica, so let’s not put that out of the equation. But the problem is that the justice system as I now find, is not fit for purpose at all,” he said.

Steve had visited Jamaica shortly after the incident. Though he had been to the island on many visits prior, that time around, it was vastly different.

“This summer, I wasn’t coming for a reunion and laughter and fun and getting to know family members from America, Canada, and Jamaica. This time, I was going to go and clean up a murder scene. And as I was driving up, I knew what lay behind those doors of the house,” he recalled.

He told the Sunday Observer that what he saw inside the house will never leave his memory.

“There was blood in every part of that lower place of the downstairs living area… on the walls, on the ceiling. The carpet was absolutely saturated, soaked with dry blood. Soaked. And you can see where my brother’s injury was sustained. And you could also see where my brother’s last breaths were taken. The scene told the whole story. You could see it.”

He remembers crying as he cleaned the house and reflecting on the fact that the same house was his brother’s dream post-retirement.

“I cried enough tears to fill that ocean that was outside his house. I cried to fill it twice over, as I’m wiping up his blood. I had to get on my hands and knees and do that. And I’m just thinking at the same time. ‘Why? Why did someone do this? Why does someone do this?’ Again, I had no idea.”

From there on, he added, “It’s not been an easy process.”

“Even on Sundays, I sometimes sit and cry even after all these years. My big brother would do anything for me because I was his little brother. I’m 56 now, but I’m always his little brother. Usually, he would come around on a Sunday and look around my house because he could turn his hands to anything. I could sometimes just leave something out knowing that he would repair it,” he went on.

Steve is adamant that after such a long wait, the family refuses to stay quiet any longer.

“Our eyes have been widened by what we’ve seen. It’s been shocking what we’ve actually had to endure but we’re going to rise to the challenge and see if we can do something to not only make a difference for the loss of our brother in terms of justice, but also to make a system that works well for the Jamaican people. And that’s probably what my brother would want us to do. He was a man all about Jamaica; he loved Jamaica and its people and so we need to do something,” he said.

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