Family of Damien Mega Ernest: ‘Justice is Served!’

Deceased Damien ‘Mega’ Ernest

A grieving family now cries tears of relief after Grandbay natives Samron Thomas and Marvin Albert were both sentenced to prison following the murder of twenty-three-year-old Kingshill native Damien ‘Mega’ Ernest in June 2020. On Tuesday, May 28, Thomas and Albert appeared before Justice Colin Williams at the Roseau High Court for sentencing.

Facts state that on Saturday, June 27, 2020, at about 11:00 a.m., police responded to a call confirming the discovery of a deceased body along the Laudat road leading to the Fresh Water Lake. The call was made by a passerby who was on his way to the lake with his family for a picnic when he noticed the deceased lying face-down along the path. Investigations confirmed that Ernest succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds measuring between 0.5cm and 2cm on his cheeks, neck, shoulder, and other parts of the body. He had spent the previous night engaging in festive activities with his accused murderers but retired at Laudat, where he was fatally shot.

That Saturday afternoon, a then nineteen-year-old Albert had agreed to assist police with investigations after admitting to being with the deceased before his death. At about 5:00 p.m. that day, Thomas visited the Criminal Investigations Department where he also agreed to assist police, still denying his involvement in the matter. They both appeared before the magistrate’s court pleading not guilty to the crime. In April 2024, at the High Court, Albert asked to have his charge read to him a second time, requesting to change his plea to guilty. He was cautioned by Justice Williams about the detriments of pleading guilty for convenience, for the sake of threats or to accept blame that doesn’t belong to him,  which he obliged, and pleaded guilty. After Thomas was found guilty by a panel of jurors, Albert asked to plead a third time on May 17, claiming that he had initially been threatened by Thomas and Thomas’ cousin (who is now deceased), at the state prison.

“He told me if I didn’t plead guilty and make him take jail, he would make somebody kill me outside there.”

Albert said that he had informed his mother of the threats posed by Thomas but informed the prison officer of Thomas’ cousin’s threats. Efforts made to summon the prison officer to court proved futile; however, Albert’s mother, who he claimed to have been informed of the threats since 2020, denied that conversation. The judge then denied the request to have his charges re-read. During sentencing on Tuesday, Justice Williams considered the aggravating and mitigating factors as well as the seriousness level accompanied by a substantial degree of premeditation which attracted the whole of life sentence.

Considering Thomas to be the mastermind and Albert the subordinate behind the murder, the judge highlighted a few factors contributing to the evidence of premeditation. Those factors included but were not limited to; Thomas’ suggestion to go to Laudat the evening of the murder, effort to conceal and mislead by location, betrayal of the deceased who trusted him, his phone call made to the deceased’s brother asking his whereabouts, and lack of remorse.

The gravity of the offense and criminal background of each accused was considered, and Justice Williams made mention of Thomas being charged for a separate matter involving murder in 2022, just one month after he had been released on bail for the murder of Ernest. Thomas’ Attorney Wayne Norde addressed the fact that his client was a teenager at the time of the crime, hence his inability to make rational decisions. This was easily dismissed by the judge who underlined the difference between age and maturity, stating that Thomas appeared to have the maturity of an adult. “He was working, he was driving, he took a rental, he was renting a home on his own,” insinuating that the accused was well aware of his actions.

Besides the fact that Albert had no previous convictions, the judge reminded that he was mature enough to understand the future repercussions connected to his crime, and that he never accepted the opportunity to apologize at court or show remorse for his actions. The Social Inquiry report confirmed Albert’s remorse for being at the scene of the crime and engaging with “poor company” but not remorse for the initial crime.

Thomas, on the other hand, had informed social officials that he was innocent and that he didn’t want to be incarcerated but wanted to be released. Social inquiry also shed light on comments from villagers that Thomas was a menace to his community, whose family failed to discipline him as a child, and that he was no stranger to criminal behavior, quite contrary to what his family revealed. Albert, however, was described as a hard-working and quiet individual who avoided trouble.

“Samron Thomas, I sentence you to life in prison for the murder of Damien Ernest,”  relayed Justice Williams.

He then proceeded to a starting point of 45 years for Marvin Albert which increased by four years due to aggravating factors exceeding mitigating factors. Credit for time served of three years and ten months decreased his sentencing to a total of 45 years, one month, and one week from April 19, 2024.

Marian George informed reporters of her satisfaction with the court’s decision as her deceased grandson has finally received justice. A teary-eyed grandmother expressed, “I don’t know what to say but I get justice! We cannot see him again but something was done.”

Meanwhile, during the Social Inquiry, prior to the sentencing date, the grieving mother of Ernest told social services officials that although she can forgive the guilty parties, they must be able to forgive themselves as no prison sentence can resurrect her son.

His sentence for this offense notwithstanding, Samron Thomas is also expected to appear before the High Court for the murder of Ronel Desiree of Eggleston. Thomas was granted bail of $50,000.00 by High Court Judge Thomas Astaphan after he was charged with the murder of the 25-year-old at the Alford Ward at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital (DCFH) on October 31, 2023.

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  1. XTE
    May 29, 2024

    This is the first time in a long time that I have felt satisfied about the sentencing of a murderer in Dominica. I trust that they will get no reduction from the court of appeal.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  2. Malick
    May 29, 2024

    I hope hard labor goes with this sentence. These murderers deserve the maximum sentence under then law. They owe a debt to our society, so if a school needs painting..send them. grass on the public side walk…send them…whatever needs to be done in the benefit of the public..send them

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • if we knew better
      May 31, 2024

      when last you see prisoners doing any labor?

  3. Putin
    May 29, 2024

    DNO, thank you for the information provided. This article reads differently from what is normally posted. Not bad.

  4. Vwais den
    May 28, 2024

    bring back the death penalty

  5. Happy
    May 28, 2024

    well done Judge. there should be plenty more like you

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0
  6. MEME
    May 28, 2024

    Those guys, BOTH, deserved the rope!!!The killing of their friend was like nothing to them. Getting you all from the community and from our streets is a joy to so many people.
    More thugs need to be hammered with life sentences, since i dont hear of hanging again.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

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