Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Family jolted by killer’s confession

Published:Friday | January 22, 2021 | 12:11 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter
Simone Campbell-Collymore's shooting death was captured on CCTV.
Simone Campbell-Collymore's shooting death was captured on CCTV.

If Keshtina Bonner had her way, confessed killer Wade Blackwood would spend the rest of his life behind bars for the horrific shooting death of her sister, Simone Campbell-Collymore.

Blackwood detailed, in a caution statement recorded by police investigators five months after the killing, how Campbell-Collymore screamed as he and a crony sprayed her taxi with bullets as it was about to enter her Forest Ridge apartment complex in Red Hills, St Andrew, on January 2, 2018.

Winston Walters, the owner and operator of the ill-fated taxi, was also shot to death in the attack.

Campbell-Collymore’s husband, popular businessman Omar ‘Best’ Collymore, is among four men also facing murder charges arising from the killing.

On Thursday, Blackwood, 24, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and two counts each of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

A post-mortem revealed that Campbell-Collymore was shot 19 times and died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen, with injuries to the lung, liver and right kidney.

Walters was shot five times and died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head, according to a post-mortem report cited in court documents.

The killing was captured by a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera mounted in the area, one of the factors that nudged Blackwood to plead guilty.

The video recordings and the quality of still images captured by the CCTV showed Blackwood approaching the front passenger side of the vehicle and firing into it, court documents revealed.

Bonner and Campbell-Collymore’s mother fought back tears as they walked out of the courtroom moments before the video was being played in court.

Bonner acknowledged, during an interview with The Gleaner, that she had mixed emotions about hearing Blackwood admit to killing her sister.

She said while it provided some measure of relief to see that there is some movement in the case, hearing the confessed killer’s first-hand account was traumatising.

“It was almost as if I was reliving the whole situation,” she said.

“Jamaica doesn’t have the death penalty, so that’s not an option. Life [in prison] doesn’t even do it justice, but the fact that it’s the maximum, that’s what they should get.”

Bonner recalled that on the fateful day, Campbell-Collymore was on her way to pick up the two children – aged five and seven – she shared with Omar to spend time in the country before school resumed.

“The morning of the murder, she went and paid their school fee, went to work to tie up some stuff, and then she planned to go for them to go to the country and hang out,” she recalled.

Walters also leaves behind three sons, one of whom was close to matriculating to high school at the time of the slaying.

Campbell-Collymore’s mother and Walters’ widow both declined to comment on the conviction.

Five months after the killing, on June 20, 2018, Blackwood detailed his involvement in a caution statement recorded by police investigators in the presence of two justices of the peace.

He recounted that on January 1, 2018, two men whom he knew told him they had a “mission” to go on and asked if he wanted to come along. The men’s names are being withheld.

Blackwood said that he declined the offer, but indicated that his response did not go well with the men.

“She fi dead, enuh,” he quoted both men as saying.

Blackwood said later that day he got what he suggested was a threatening telephone call from one of the men.

“Memba seh you bredda [borrow] man tings an yuh nuh pay fi it yet. So wait til me come back, a different ting,” he quoted the man as saying.

He told investigators that on the day of the killing, the men came back on two motorcycles. The confessed killer said he got on one of the motorcycles and they drove to the foot of Red Hills where they stopped to purchase gas.

He said that one of the men made a telephone call, then relayed to him that the Toyota Axio motor car in which Campbell-Collymore was travelling was “coming up”.

According to Blackwood, they were joined by two other men, also on a motorcycle, and they all drove behind the taxi until it got to the gated apartment complex.

“[Name redacted] came off his bike and started firing shot in the driver side and me fire in the passenger side,” said the convicted killer.

Blackwood told investigators that as he fired into the car, he heard Campbell-Collymore screamed as the glass windows shattered around her.

He recalled handing back the murder weapon, a Glock pistol, to his friend and that he burnt the clothes he was wearing.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com