Two Accused Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison, for Murder of Bunny Francis

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Two men who were arrested and charged in connection with the 2011 contract murder, of St Andrew businessman, Roderick Francis, otherwise called ‘Bunny Francis’, were sentenced to serve over 32 years in prison, when they appeared in the Home Circuit Court, in Kingston, on Thursday, May 13.

Both accused, 37-year-old George Gardener, and 52-year-old Carlos Batista, a Dominican national who resides in Kingston, were each ordered to serve 32 years, and eight months, before being eligible for parole.

Reports are that Batista and Gardner and another man, reportedly conspired to murder the businessman, who was 61-year-old at the time of his death.

It is also revealed that Batista at one point was employed by Francis, who was the Chief Executive Officer of B&D Trawling Limited, but he later left the company after an alleged falling out between the two.

The police also reported that on Thursday, June 25, 2011, Francis was shot and killed while he was standing in close proximity to his home, at Queensway, St Andrew.

During the incident, the businessman’s son who is a licensed firearm holder, came on the scene and challenged the gunmen, who escaped in a motor vehicle.

A report was made to the police, and following an investigation, the getaway car was found at an auto body shop, being repaired.

Further investigations led the police to Sheldon Watson, who was alleged to be the getaway driver, and he led investigators to Gardner, Batista, and another accused, Newton Walsh.

All four men were charged in connection with the murder of the businessman, but Welch was freed of charges last October, due to lack of evidence, while Watson pleaded guilty to the offence of accessory after the fact of murder, and was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for three years with probation.

Batista and Gardner were found guilty in January of this year, and sentenced by High Court Judge, Justice Georgiana Frazer, on Thursday.

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