Murder accused to undergo forensic psychiatrist test

Fabian Skervin, the farmer charged with murder in the deaths of a Jamaican-Canadian couple in Retreat, St Thomas, just over two years ago, is to undergo assessment by an independent forensic psychiatrist and a report presented to the court by July 22.

Skervin, who was charged along with his female counterpart at the time, has claimed that he killed the couple on the advice of one of two voices he had heard in his head.

Melbourne Flake, 81, and his 70-year-old wife Etta were found dead at their vacation home on January 9, 2018. Flake was observed to have sustained head wounds, while his wife was said to have been suffocated.

Following investigations, Skervin, a farmer of Tulip Road and Soho district, both in Seaforth, and his female companion were picked up at a house in Seaforth Housing Scheme in St Thomas on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 and subsequently charged with two counts of murder and robbery with aggravation each.

Last week when Skervin appeared before Justice Martin Gayle in the St Thomas Circuit Court, his attorneys indicated that their client had been medically examined by a psychiatrist and found to be suffering from schizophrenia and hallucinations. The psychiatrist was, however, not of the view that Skervin was insane at the time of the commission of the offence.

Skervin’s defence team, led by senior counsel Anthony Williams, assisted by Julie-Ann Bailey, requested leave to engage the services of a forensic psychiatrist to conduct an independent review of that assessment.

On Thursday last week when the matter again came up for mention, the court gave the defence attorneys the go-ahead to have him assessed by an independent forensic psychiatrist.

“The forensic psychiatrist has been retained. He will be doing an evaluation of Mr Skervin. It is expected that come the 22nd of July both prosecution and defence will have a copy of the report and then the defence will know what to do. We want to determine did he have the mental capacity at the time. The previous doctor said he had, but we are saying he didn’t. This doctor may confirm or deny,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer on Friday.

In the meantime, the matter has been transferred to the Home Circuit Court division of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston.

The defence intends to argue “diminished responsibility” which, if successful, will see Skervin answering to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Diminished responsibility holds that an accused person should be absolved of part of the liability for his/her criminal act if he/she suffers from an abnormality of mind which substantially impairs his/her responsibility in committing or being party to a crime.

Prosecutors, in the meantime, are pressing for Skervin to answer to murder.

Allegations before the court are that Skervin, who was employed by the couple as a handyman, had some knowledge of the premises. It is alleged that following the incident the then 25-year-old, using the couple’s bank cards, went on a spending spree during which he purchased a wedding ring.

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