Sunday 9 August, 2020

St Thomas businessman accused of killing six to begin own defence

The drama-filled murder trial of St Thomas businessman, Michael McLean will enter a new phase Monday as he is expected to begin mounting his own defence when it resumes in the Home Circuit Court.

The 50-year-old businessman is on trial for the gruesome 2006 murders of a family of six, including four children in St Thomas.

On Friday, prosecutors closed their case after calling 12 witnesses, including two retired senior policemen, one of McLean’s former girlfriends and a nanny.

The businessman is on trial for killing his girlfriend, Terry-Ann Mohammed, her son, Jessie O'Gilvie, as well as her aunt Patrice Martin-McCool, and her children, Lloyd McCool, Jihad McCool and Sean Chin on February 26, 2006. The killings reportedly occurred after McLean was given a meal by his girlfriend which he later said “did not agree” with him.

Four of the victims were found along the Prospect Beach in St Thomas with their throats slashed while Mohammed was found in bushes in Needham Pen, also in St Thomas. She had burns all over her body. The court was told that while giving a caution statement to the police, McLean abruptly stopped and voluntarily led detectives to a shallow grave in St Mary where the decomposing body of Jihad McCool was found one week after the killings. According to the post-mortem examination, he was suffocated.

McLean chose to defend himself after firing at least nine lawyers, including Carlton Collman, who presiding High Court judge, Bertram Morrison instructed to stay on to provide technical expertise for the accused. The case had been adjourned nearly 50 times over the nearly 12 years it took to come to trial. During that time, McLean has been evaluated and found mentally fit to stand trial.

He has also had several run-ins with Justice Morrison, who has threatened to cite him for contempt of court for his repeated outbursts. On one occasion he told the judge to recuse himself, stating that he would not be given a fair trial. On another occasion he was heard saying “I did good” after he had cross examined a witness. On yet another occasion, he failed to have noted criminal lawyer Christopher Townsend represent him after they failed to agree terms.

A portion of a caution statement that McLean gave to the police was read out in court last Friday. In it he said he was ambushed by men armed with machine guns who killed the family members before forcing him to drive them to St Mary where Jihad was buried. He claimed the men then walked off into bushes, leaving him behind. He also said the men had cocaine in their possession.

On February 2, McLean broke down in tears when one of his former girlfriends recounted for the court, in emotional fashion, the events on the night after the six people were murdered and he tried to use her as an alibi.

The witness cried openly as she told the court how McLean appeared when he picked her up along with the couple’s two year-old daughter about 5:00 in the morning on a Sunday. She said he was messy, with mud all over his elbows and sneakers. She said his Range Rover was also dirty with shrubs hanging on the outside of the passenger seat. He reportedly refused to answer her questions as to why he and the vehicle were so messy. They proceeded to a guest house where she later shampooed his hair, she said.

The following morning, the bodies of five of the victims were discovered. McLean had allegedly attempted to get the victim to state that she had been with him all night.

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