After pleading not guilty to murder in May 2014, 26-year-old former school teacher John Redhead has changed his mind and threw in the towel for the 2012 murder of his former girl friend, 18-year-old Akera Lalgie of Bay Road, Upper La Tante St. David.
The accused who was represented by the law firm of Ciboney Chambers pleaded guilty on April 15 to the charge of murder before Madam Justice Paula Gilford at the Number 2 high court.
Grenadians went into deep shock when the torso of Akera was found in 2012 in a plastic garbage bag hidden inside a shopping bag with its head, arms and legs missing, by a scavenger who was in search of food.
Her dismembered body was discovered in an area known as Simmons Alley within the town of St. George’s on 26th July 2012.
The discovery was made just moments before Rainbow Janitorial Service came around to make its regular garbage collection for the day.
The head and legs of the deceased have never been recovered. Police reports indicate that the murdered teenager was on an errand for her mother but after not returning home, a missing person’s report was filed with the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).
The very next day a vagrant who was searching the garbage bins in the Woolwich Road sent out an alert of what he had seen and the torso of Akera was discovered.
Redhead who lived at Requin in St. David’s was identified as a person of interest and was taken into custody by members of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for questioning.
An active member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the ex-boyfriend of the deceased was taken in for questioning and “confessed” to the lawmen to his role in the incident.
THE NEW TODAY spoke with State Prosecutor, Howard Pinnock, who was leading the case on behalf of the Crown before High Court Judge, Justice Madam Justice Paula Gilford at High Court No. 2.
Pinnock said that because of the nature of the crime, Redhead will most likely receive a custodial sentence rather than death sentence when the judge hands down the sentence on May 4.
He referred to some of the past cases from the British Privy Council on the death penalty that would have some bearing on the Redhead verdict.
“The Privy Council had reported in a number of cases that for the death penalty to be applied, it must be the worst of the worst and this (case) has not reached that category. It wouldn’t be a sentence of death, more than likely it would be a determinative sentence meaning it would be a number of years,” he said.
According to Pinnock, there are many factors that will have to be taken in the Sentencing and Justice Gilford would have to take them into consideration.
He identified them as: “What would have motivated that individual to commit this offence? Was it a premeditated sort of murder?
He went on to say: “The judge will be taking into account the circumstances of the offender. He (Redhead) has no previous convictions. For example, what the community says about him? There would have been a Probation report done by the Probation Department and this would find out in the community what sort of person he is. It (Pobation Dept) would have interviewed the mother of the deceased to find out the impact of the crime on her”.
Although the State Prosecutor could not tell THE NEW TODAY the results of the Psychiatric Evaluation which took place in 2014, he said that this report among others would be considered in determining a suitable sentence for the murder accused.
“The judges over the years have laid out certain principles that would guide a sentencing judge and the judge has to consider what are the aims of the sentencing, punishment for example, deterrence, rehabilitation and retribution … so the judge (Gilford) will take into account those four aims of sentencing in deciding what is the appropriate sentence in this case”, he said.
“…A psychological assessment was in fact provided by Dr Fleming. The court would also take that into consideration because in offences of murder, the courts have ruled, certainly the former Chief Justice, Justice (Hugh) Rawlins he would have ruled that in cases of murder, it’s mandatory that the judge order a Probation report and a Psychiatric evaluation to assist in the sentencing process because you want to assess the individual,” he added.
Pinnock was also high in praise for the members of CID for engaging in what he called a thorough investigation into the murder of Akera.
“Based on my perusal of the file, the officers from the RGPF, specifically the CID Department did an excellent job in this investigation, aided and abetted of course with fortune because had the Garbage Disposal Unit come a little earlier to the Garbage bins, crucial evidence would’ve been lost.
“…The surveillance cameras from the bank (Co-op) were also checked so the police did do an excellent job in terms of investigation and bearing in mind that we were somewhat handicapped because up to now, the head and the limbs were never recovered, it was just the torso, so this unfortunate young lady, she was decapitated, no arms, no legs, no head… But still the body was positively identified and the surveillance camera from Co-op bank was examined also and persons would have seen the now convicted man walking in the vicinity of Woolwich Road with what appeared to be a Trinidad suitcase (a large bag) and he appeared to be sweating profusely and the bag appeared to be heavy and the person who discovered the torso in the bin would have said it was in this Trinidad bag (the torso was seen)”.
The former teacher was 23 years-old at the time of the dreadful killing of his ex-lover.
Just over a year ago, Police discovered a decomposed human head in a plastic bag on H.A. Blaize Street and suspect that the head could be that of Akera.
On the day following his detention, Redhead who confessed to the murder took investigators to the crime scene where an offensive weapon and personal belongings of the victim were recovered.
THE NEW TODAY was also told by law enforcement officers that the suspect confessed to using a saw and a cutlass to commit the crime.
Lalgie’s dismembered body was discovered, with her arms, legs and head missing. The torso of her body was found in a plastic garbage bag inside of a shopping bag, by a homeless man who was in search of food.
A subsequent autopsy report revealed Akera died as a result of hypovolemic shock and that the teenager was partially strangled.
Hypovolemic shock is an emergency condition in which severe blood and fluid loss make the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body.
Redhead will be sentenced on May 4 and the time served on remand at the Richmond Hill Prison will be deducted by Justice Gilford.