Canadian news media reports “outrage” at tourist killer’s sentence. Schwarzfeld family says “Sentence made no sense.”

Canadians still following the Terry Schwarzfeld story

Adrian Loveridge interviewed by Ottawa Citizen

The sentencing of Curtis Joel Foster in the killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld and the subsequent appeal by the Barbados Director of Public Prosecutions continues to be news in Canada.

The Ottawa Citizen published a weekend article Barbados sentence ‘unduly lenient’ as did the CanWest news agency in papers across Canada. The Canadian press interviewed Schwarzfeld’s sister, Joan Schwarzfeld, and hotelier Adrian Loveridge, who chairs the safety and security committee of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.

Former Attorney General Dale Marshall – Embarrassing

As well, the Ottawa Citizen focused upon the idiotic (our description) comments of former Attorney General Dale Marshall – who is quoted as saying that Foster’s sentencing should have no impact on tourism from Canada.

Judging by the articles in the Canadian press and the comments online from both Canadians and Bajans, Dale Marshall is totally out of touch with his constituents and the rest of the world on the danger to our tourism industry if Barbados is perceived to be uncaring or soft on violence against visitors and citizens.

Prospective tourists can get over the fact that a visitor was murdered while strolling on a beach in broad daylight – provided they believe it was an isolated incident and that Barbados citizens and our government and courts responded appropriately.

In our opinion, Canadians still believe that Barbados is one of the safest tourist destinations in the world – and rightly so, because Barbados still provides about as safe a vacation as can be had anywhere.

Where Barbados fell down in this case was in the initial response and incident handling, and also in our government’s poor treatment of the victims’ families who were ignored and kept in the dark throughout the process.

Court dates were set, decisions and deals were made and actions were taken by the DPP, the police and the government without basic courtesy or concern for informing the victims’ families. Often there was not even a phone call or an email to inform family members as to an important event as the case processed through our courts. The Schwarzfeld family told the Canadian press that they were not being informed of important developments by the Barbados authorities. Like everyone else, they mostly heard about the deals and delays through the news media or this blog.

Where did the law stop and politics begin?

The decision to not proceed on the murder charge against Foster may have been properly taken according to the best legal advice – but there is also a suspicion in Canada, Barbados and elsewhere that the government simply wanted to avoid the drawn-out publicity a lengthy murder trial. Undoubtedly the failure of our Royal Barbados Police Force to note and address Curtis Joel Foster’s long series of violent crimes against tourists at Long Beach would have been a central issue in any trial.

So the prosecution offered a deal and asked for 16 to 20 years. To the utter amazement of everyone, the judge gave 10 years – proving that Dale Marshall has at least one other neighbour on whatever different planet he lives on.

Had Foster received what Bajans and Canadians consider a reasonable sentence in all the circumstances, the government of Barbados would have happily seen this case fade from the public eye with the average tourist believing that justice was done. That is not to be though.

Two Lessons for Barbados

There are two main lessons that Barbados should take away from this unhappy event. Firstly, we failed to do our best to protect visitors and citizens against a known threat at a specific location. As we mentioned in our article Guilty plea in killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld raises official hopes that the story will now go away, that was basically a police leadership and competence problem that is as yet unresolved.

Secondly, we failed the family and friends of Terry Schwarzfeld and her daughter-in-law Lauana Cotsman by failing to keep them informed about court dates and decisions in the prosecution of the person who killed their loved one. Oh, our government and politicians were good for a couple of weeks after the murder, but then it all fell apart in the long run because we have no real plan or crisis handling team in place for incidents involving foreign visitors. We wing it every time with no checklist and no institutional memory of what went right or wrong last time.

This is part of a larger problem that our government shares with our news media: in a crisis we prefer cover-ups instead of acknowledging problems and implementing proper responses. We used to be able to operate like this because the government could control the flow of information both locally and abroad.

That was before YouTube and a camera in every mobile phone. That was before instant messaging, blogs, FaceBook and personal websites. That was before TripAdvisor and a host of other travel websites and forums.

We don’t seem to learn the lessons we need to. Six months after the Schwarzfeld beach murder, the British press reported British Tourist Shot, Robbed Near Sandy Lane Resort Barbados On June 4, 2009 – Victim Alleges Silence By Barbados News Media, Hotel, Tourism Authorities.

I am surprised and disappointed that as a country that relies almost exclusively upon tourism for our economy, Barbados has no crisis handling team or plan for the long term management of situations involving foreign visitors. If we did have proper management in place, members of the Schwarzfeld family would not be telling their fellow Canadians that Barbados did not care enough to keep them informed about important developments surrounding the death of their loved one.

17 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, News Media, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

17 responses to “Canadian news media reports “outrage” at tourist killer’s sentence. Schwarzfeld family says “Sentence made no sense.”

  1. Chicago

    Good article. I wish the government could learn from it.

  2. Hants

    A Judge sentences a killer to 10 years in Jail. The DPP is appealing the sentence because he thinks it is too lenient.

    What is wrong with that?

    The Judge is one man who made a huge error and an effort to CORRECT his mistake is being made by the DPP.

    So maybe we should follow the Canadian lead and investigate the competence of the Judge.

    BFP there must be something NICE that you can post about Barbados.

  3. Hell0?

    “Barbados has no crisis handling team or plan for the long term management of situations”?

    correction

    Barbados has no government, only elected officials who draw cheques for doing nothing and making side deals that sell out our future.

    It is time to really clean house of both parties.

  4. Johnny Postle

    Irreparable damage was done by the comments of Dale Marshall, a politician who have exhibited ignorance and insensitivity in dealing with very delicate matters. It would be in the best interest of Dale Marshall, if he can put aside the pompousness and arrogance associated with people of power, to make a public apology for his small minded verbalizations. The matter that must be taken into consideration is that a tourist, regardless of race or colour, was murdered by one of our locals. And this will have repurcussive effects on related tourism numbers out of Canada.

  5. Sargeant

    There is nothing like mixing a little fact with a lot of fiction to get the blood boiling. BFP would have us believe through this and other articles that there was a conspiracy among the judiciary and politicians to have this case swept under the rug. Think politicians are happy? Then why the appeal of the verdict by the DPP? There is nothing like a Law and Order platform for politicians to embrace, it provides reassurance to their constituents and they would love to reassure visitors of the harsh punishment meted out in a case like this.

    If you or your loved ones are victims of crime then no punishment would be severe enough so I expect family and friends of the victim complain to complain, however to those Bajans and Canucks who have commented in the other threads I would say without fear of contradiction that in 99.9% of cases, punishment for crimes in Barbados is more severe than in Canada. Does any one remember how many years Julia Yves Elliot – a Bajan- received for murdering and dismembering her paramour- a Canadian- and fleeing the jurisdiction? Seven years!!! Everyone should treat this as a Judge making a decision not an indictment of Crime and Punishment in Barbados.

    We always think that the grass is greener on the other side and I refer to the previous articles about lack of warning to potential visitors to the area in light of other people being victimized and again I would point to Canadians to look into their own backyard to the case of Jane Doe against the Toronto Police. “Jane Doe” sued the Toronto Police because she was raped by a serial rapist whom the Police knew was operating in the neighbourhood where she lived; the Police did not issue any warnings to the women in the area- so it does happen elsewhere.

    Lastly again I wonder how many of those Canadian columnists and readers who are outraged by the sentence took time out of their busy Sundays to listen to Michael Enright and his panel discussion on the “Sunday Edition” of CBC.

    http://www.cbc.ca/radio/

    http://www.owjn.org/archive/jane.htm

  6. canadian

    BFP… i believe you are partial wrong on this one on . Lenient sentencing in Canada has always been and continues to be an irritation to its citizens who believe Canada is, by and large, a fair society. These outburst by the media is a reflection of the new”ugly Canadian” syndrome that we have somehow copied from our neighbour in the south.
    My personal belief is that the sentence handed down is not justifiable. I could agree with the PR issues of the government but i figure you have issues with Marshall which i believe is leading to ,an over the top, criticism . But i will tell you that he may not be that wrong on the tourism impact. For the last 5 to 6 years Canadian have been killed in resorts in Mexico( and some unsolved) and still this have not stop us from going.

  7. Hants

    @ Sargeant.

    Your pragmatism is refreshing.

  8. Gascoigne LaRue

    There are those who say the ‘killer’ is not the perpetrator and the reason for the light sentence reflects that, Police grabbled a scapegoat and tossed him to the Canadian wolves, this part backfired?

  9. john

    Does anybody know what happened to all the other charges Foster was accused of? There seems to be rather a lot that seem to have “disappeared”

  10. theNickster

    In Barbados, currently a person shall be sentenced to death where convicted of murder (section 2 of the Offenses Against the Person Act, Cap. 141). The crime of murder is considered to be a serious crime and this indicates that domestic law reflects the principle stated in Article 6(2) of the Covenant. Further, section 78(1) of the Constitution of Barbados provides that where a person is convicted of any offense under the law, the Governor-General has the authority to grant a pardon or substitute a less severe form of punishment.

    We have abolished the death penalty right?

  11. oh come on

    wasnt curtis foster convicted of manslaughter?

    maybe the evidence that the police had wasnt bullet proof to get him on murder so they had to give a plea bargain to get him on the lesser count of manslaughter to prevent a total loss.

    if i remember correctly the description of the assailant didnt even match foster along with some other irregularities.

    cani ask again

    should the sentence of manslaughter be more for a tourist’s death than for a local? cuz i see locals gettting 10 and 12 years for murder of another local and this again was a guilty plea to the lesser count of manslaughter

  12. Vernita

    I beleive the judge may have factored in that Mr. Fostor had mental issues compounded by the fact that he (and siblings) is of low intelligence. I have noticed that the sentencing for similar crimes in other countries is 10 years, so Barbados is not now out of line regarding the punishment in this particular case.

  13. GH

    It is about time that BFP stop misleading people! What’s your agenda? The only reports in the Canadian media are quotes the Barbados Media.

  14. PiedPiper

    Message for Adrian Loveridge: Skyservice has gone out of business. All flights cancelled.

  15. Hants

    Toronto to Barbados
    from $198.00 + taxes of $91.35

    Sweeeeeet!

  16. ru4real

    Gascoigne LaRue
    March 28, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    There are those who say the ‘killer’ is not the perpetrator and the reason for the light sentence reflects that, Police grabbled a scapegoat and tossed him to the Canadian wolves, this part backfired?
    —————————————-
    Surely Not?
    Our worthy police officers would not do something like that?
    Everyone knows they are the most honorable police force in the entire er ……….well somewhere anyway.
    Police brutality mo such thing so how would they pick up some poor ignoramus and stick this one on him?
    Gotta make de place alright for the tourists but cant stuff the guy with too much after all………..
    Did he do it?
    Maybe maybe not?
    The light sentence is very suspicious.

  17. vancet

    did he not leave an eye-witness behind?
    can she not ID the piece of crap?
    hang dem high
    bring back de CAT O Nine tails

    What ever happened to the English woman’s body that washed up on long beach years ago
    maybe the same piece of crap that pelt she off cliff!