Inquest brings closure for machete victim’s family

Errol Bennett, with daughter Zoe and son Errol Jnr
Errol Bennett, with daughter Zoe and son Errol Jnr
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THE family of murder victim Errol Bennett finally got their day in court, four-and-a-half years after he was hacked to death in Jamaica.

An inquest in Preston ruled the 59-year-old had been “unlawfully killed,” bringing some long-awaited closure for relatives in the UK.

Zoe Bennett, who received death threats for pursuing justice for her father, said later: “After all this time it’s finally reached a conclusion, although it will never be over for us.

“It feels like dad has finally been afforded his rights as a British citizen. But it doesn’t detract from the fact that two of the murderers have got away with it.”

Errol, an upholsterer from Ribbleton and a founder member of the city’s Jalgos Club, bled to death after suffering numerous machete and knife wounds at his holiday home in Jamaica in December 2011. It took more than three years to bring anyone to trial - his 35-year-old nephew Josephas Clifton Bennett getting life with a minimum 40 years for murder.

But the Bennett family have always claimed there were two other attackers - witnessed by a woman who was also injured in the late night break-in and a neighbour who saw three people flee the scene.

“At first the police said three people did it and so did the witnesses,” said Zoe who arrived at the inquest wearing a T-shirt bearing her father’s photo and the words ‘Justice for Errol Bennett - murdered in Jamaica 17/12-11.’

“But all that just disappeared by the time it came to trial. They tried to sweep it under the carpet and dismiss it as a domestic dispute between family.

“I should have been at the house in Jamaica that night and I believe the attackers went there to kill both me and my dad so they could take over the house. I was saved because at the last minute I couldn’t get time off work to fly out there.

“I later got death threats if I attended the trial. The Jamaican authorities ordered me to go over to give evidence, but an MP here intervened and they backed down.

“I’ve pursued this relentlessly for dad’s sake. He was my greatest mentor and he would never have given up, so I kept going to honour his memory.”

Assistant coroner Simon Jones said the long wait to hold an inquest in the UK had been due to the protracted court proceedings in Jamaica and delays in getting a transcript of the trial.

His conclusion was that Mr Bennett “was subjected to a sustained attack by an assailant wielding a weapon and died from wounds inflicted in the assault.”