Zoe Bennett battled for more than three years to bring her father’s killer to justice.
Now, after her cousin was finally jailed for a minimum of 40 years for the brutal slaying of Preston upholsterer Errol Bennett in Jamaica, the devoted daughter has vowed to keep fighting on behalf of other victims’ families.
“I really want to do something for other people whose loved ones have been murdered out there and are hitting the same brick walls that we hit,” said Zoe, whose own life was threatened for the way she relentlessly pursued the case against Josephas Clifton Bennett through the courts.
“I don’t want anyone to have to go through what we went through just to get a conviction. The legal system in Jamaica is so slow and ineffective that many families just give up in frustration.”
Zoe and her family staged a demonstration in Westminster and even took their protest to the Prime Minister with an online petition to put pressure on the Jamaican authorities to bring the case to trial.
It took police on the Caribbean island nine months to arrest Clifton Bennett and a further 18 months – and eight separate court adjournments – to get a guilty verdict last week.
While the sentence of 40 years to life without parole was a welcome outcome, Zoe fears other families are also facing a similar struggle for justice following a spate of murders of ex-pats returning to live in Jamaica after spending most of their lives living abroad.
“Dad’s killing was not the first of its kind,” she said. “There have been a lot. Yet as far as I know this is the first time anyone has been convicted. We pushed and pushed to get a conclusion. Yet for much of the time it was just a joke. No-one would get things moving, they just kept adjourning the case for one reason or another – either one lawyer wouldn’t turn up or the paperwork wasn’t ready.
“We genuinely feared they would eventually abandon it and Clifton would walk free.Thankfully the pressure we kept putting on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to get involved paid off. “There are other families outside Jamaica who are facing what we went through. I just want to offer them whatever assistance I can from what we experienced during a very distressing time.”