(Jamaica Observer) Jamaican businessman Michael McLean was on Tuesday convicted of murdering his girlfriend and five members of her family, including four children, 12 years ago in St Thomas.
A unanimous verdict was handed down on all six counts of murder on Tuesday by a seven-member jury who deliberated for just under four hours.
McLean was convicted of killing his former girlfriend Terry-Ann Mohammed, her son, Jessie O’Gilvie, nine; as well as her niece, Patrice Martin-McCool and her children Lloyd McCool, three; Jihad McCool, six; and Sean Chin, nine, in St Thomas on February 25, 2006.
Mohammed was found with her throat slashed with burns to her stomach and pubic area in bushes in the community of Needham Pen.
The bodies of Martin-McCool, Lloyd, Sean and Jesse were found in bushes near Prospect Beach with the throats slashed.
The decomposing body of the sixth victim, six-year-old Jihad, was found in a shallow grave in St Mary one week later.
McLean, during the trial, maintained that he was not involved in their deaths and that they had been killed by gunmen.
While the guilty verdicts were being handed down, the usual smirk that had been present on the 50-year-old chef’s face throughout his trial was absent. Instead, he was observed shaking his head while staring at the ceiling and mumbling to himself.
McLean, who surprisingly said nothing after he was convicted given his many outbursts during the trial, later told the court, through his lawyer Carlton Colman, that he wishes to forego the mitigation hearing and head straight to sentencing.
But Justice Bertram Morrison told him: “The court doesn’t operate like that.”
A sentencing date was then scheduled for April 12.
The judge also requested a psychiatric report and advised Colman to consider bringing character evidence on that date.
During the five-week-long trial, the prosecution, who brought 15 witnesses, presented mainly circumstantial evidence as there were no eyewitnesses in the matter, while defence brought three witnesses, including McLean.
Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, who was the lead prosecutor, said this has been one of worst cases she has prosecuted in her 30 years on the job.
“I prosecuted against the best and I have prosecuted some of the worst, but I must confess that in terms of the allegations, four children and their two mothers, in circumstances where, according to evidence coming from the accused, there was total trust and confidence in him by these persons, it would have to rank right up there in the top 10,” Llewellyn said.
“I think it is a very, very tragic case. It is the sort of case that caused sleepless nights for [the] prosecution [team] and I, and think I can speak for defence counsel, it would have caused him sleepless nights [too],” she added.
However, Llewellyn praised the police for doing thorough and well-coordinated investigation, and her legal team for overcoming the many hurdles that the case had presented, including the disappearance of the original case file.
“It is unfortunate that Mr McLean was able to benefit from the fact that [the] system has to make sure that, at all material times, he is given benefit of the doubt. So from the time in 2006 when the tragic event took place, some 87 mention dates and 15 trial dates later, we have had the trial, but Mr McLean changed eight or nine lawyers, and in this case, there was at one stage a scenario where he purported to fire his attorney, but His Lordship, given his great experience, and I, with my experience, recognised that we had to bend over backwards to ensure there was a fair trial so His Lord did not release defence counsel and had him stay,” she said.