Zoe Bennett’s New Year wish is to see the men who brutally murdered her father brought to justice.
But, as Errol Bennett’s killers continue to evade the law more than three years after he was savagely hacked to death in Jamaica, his family back in Preston are still struggling to cope with their grief.
“Dad was killed days before Christmas, so this was our fourth without him,” said an emotional Zoe. “We don’t celebrate. How can we? This time of year can never be the same again.”
Jamaican police have one man in custody – Zoe’s cousin Clifton.
He was charged with murder more than two years ago but his trial has been repeatedly delayed on legal grounds.
Police attempts to trace others who may been involved in the torture and slaying of Mr Bennett at his holiday home in December 2011 continue to draw a blank as the inquiry enters its fourth year.
Zoe, who has since moved away from Preston, visited her dad’s grave in the city with relatives on the third anniversary of his death just prior to Christmas. But the family opted not to get together over the festive period.
“We all go into ourselves, to be honest, at this time of year,” she explained.
“We can’t talk, or celebrate, or come together at Christmas or New Year because the distress is still so immense.
“I still can’t get the picture of dad in a body bag out of my head. I had to go over to Jamaica to identify him and those images will stay with me for ever.
“That first Christmas was absolutely dreadful. I was in a robotic state, doing what I had to do on behalf of the family.
“But the other Christmases have been just as awful. I’ve tried to remain strong for the sake of everyone else. But I have just been going through the motions.
“I can’t see things improving in any way, at least not until we get some kind of closure with a trial and a conviction.”
Josephas Clifton Bennett, 34, was only brought before the Jamaican Supreme Court last March, 19 months after his arrest.
“Since then the case has been adjourned seven times – the next attempt at hearing the case will be in March.
“To be honest we aren’t holding out much hope of it getting going then,” said Zoe. “After all the delays, postponements and legal hitches, no-one in our position would be confident.
“We just want justice for dad and that’s what we are pushing the authorities for.
“In my mind they can’t keep delaying it for much longer with excuse after excuse. Something has to change, they have to hear the case eventually.”
Errol Bennett, 59, was wintering in the Caribbean for health reasons when he was attacked in his home. He suffered 16 stab wounds and a machete blow to the head and bled to death before help could reach him.
The former upholsterer came to England at the age of 15 and later helped found the Jalgos Sports and Social Club in Preston. More than 700 people attended his funeral in the city.