Dante Brooks, the 18-year-old son of acclaimed Jamaican dancehall musician, Mavado, was on Friday sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the gruesome killing of a man he and his co-accusers were at odds with in 2018.
Brooks, who was 16 at the time of the incident, also received an additional 20-year sentence for illegal possession of a firearm and a 15-year sentence for arson, local news outlet The Gleaner reported. All the sentences will run concurrently.
Brooks was implicated alongside four others for fatally shooting Lorenzo “Israel” Thomas at his Cassava Piece residence in the Parish of St. Andrew before setting the property ablaze. Thomas’ father, a witness to the incident, managed to flee. Prior to setting the house on fire, Brooks and his co-accusers allegedly tried to behead Thomas but stopped because the machete they were using was too blunt.
Prior to his involvement in the killing of Thomas, Brooks was already out on bail for one of two pending charges, Jamaica Observer reported. When handing out his sentence, Supreme Court Judge Justice Leighton Pusey said Brooks partaking in the murder knowing very well he had to answer for two pending offenses meant he had a “scant regard for the system of justice.”
“Being before the court is supposed to be a caution, and you would need to govern yourself accordingly…whether or not the matter for which he was before the court was an act of violence it would mean he would need to behave himself; it shows his character…it is showing a pattern which is ‘It’s not my fault, I didn’t do anything and I will continue to do as I please,’” Justice Pusey said.
Though the Justice admitted Brooks was a juvenile at the time of the murder, he justified the sentence on the grounds that that is what the law prescribes. He also based the sentence on key pieces of evidence including the crime being a “gun murder”, a “deliberate act, a home invasion for the express purpose of killing” as well as a “case where not just the body but the house itself was burnt.”
Justice Pusey also pointed to Brooks not taking responsibility after he was implicated for his involvement in the killing despite one of his co-accusers, Andre Hines, apologizing for the manner by which the deceased died though he pleaded not guilty, Jamaica Observer reported.
“I note when he was asked about the impact, Mr Hinds said he was sorry. Mr Brooks said he was not guilty and the impact on the community and relatives was not a fault of his,” the justice said.
“That, for me, was a theme throughout his social enquiry report,” he continued, adding that Brooks had the privilege of attending “a very outstanding preparatory school [and] went to one of the oldest high schools, and yet in all these circumstances this is where we find him [before a court of law].
“He is not taking responsibility,” Justice Pusey reiterated, mentioning that Brooks even told his co-accusers Thomas was dead after the killing and also went ahead to remind them that “somebody want the head”.
“Even though he was not the main actor, he was crucial, not a mere bystander; he was crucial to this.”
Brooks, who was found guilty of the crime in January, will only be eligible for parole after serving 22 years of his sentence.