A 29-year-old man who has been described as a drug addict has been convicted of brutally stabbing to death a Jamaican woman and three of her family members at their south London home in the United Kingdom (UK) last year.
Joshua Jacques of Minard Road in Lewisham, southeast London, was found guilty on four counts of murder by an Old Bailey jury after two hours of deliberation on Thursday.
One of the victims in the April 25, 2022 knife attack was 64-year-old Dolet Hill, who was from Lyssons, St Thomas, and subsequently migrated to the UK.
Hill was a former National Health Service (NHS) employee, and was receiving cancer treatment when she was killed.
The other victims were Hill’s partner, 58-year-old Denton Burke; her 45-year-old daughter, Tanysha Ofori-Akuffo, otherwise called ‘Racquel’; and Tanysha’s 27-year-old daughter, Samantha Drummonds.
Jacques and Drummonds were in a relationship at the time of the attacks.
According to UK media reports on the trial, police described finding a “bloodbath” in the Bermondsey, south London house.Burke’s body was at the foot of the stairs, while the three women were “heaped together” in the kitchen.
Officers discovered Jacques in the nude lying in a praying position and calling out religious phrases, such as “Allah, take me!”, “Kill me now”, “Get rid of me”, and “God, please forgive me”, the court heard.
Later at the hospital, Jacques was quoted as saying: “I ain’t even in the wrong, I did them for sacrifice”.
He also said, “I will do something stupid again”.
Jacques, a convicted drug dealer, admitted to manslaughter, but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The convict, through his defence team, claimed that he was suffering from mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, when he killed the family members.
However, the jury opted to convict him of murder.
Jacques’ sentencing hearing has been set for February 9, 2024. He was remanded in custody.
The judge, based on submissions from the prosecution, was invited to consider whether the exceptional brutality warrants a whole-life sentence.
Lead prosecutor Tom Little argued at the trial that Jacques’ judgment was not impaired by any psychiatric condition, but rather by voluntary intoxication from drugs and alcohol leading to transient psychosis, which does not qualify for diminished responsibility.
Jacques, the court was told, had 11 prior convictions for 20 offences, including drug crimes and robbery.
He first had a mental health assessment in April 2016, this after he sought hospital treatment for drinking water from a toilet, the court was told.
His last prior conviction was in February 2020, when he was imprisoned for 51 months for conspiring to deal heroin and crack cocaine, as well as possessing cannabis. He was released on November 11, 2021.
The court heard that days before the April 25, 2022 knife attack, Jacques’ girlfriend, Drummonds, confided to a friend that she believed he was having what was described as an “episode”.
But the prosecutor said there were no medical calls prior to the killings, nor had Jacques been hospitalised for any treatment.
After Jacques launched his attack, Drummonds called his mother, Norma Derrivere.
However, all she heard was, “Norma, he’s sta … sta … ahhh,” reports said.
There were also FaceTime calls between Jacques and his mother that evening, and during one, he reportedly said: “I’m ending it, I’m gonna make a sacrifice”.
The victims suffered multiple stab wounds during the overall attack, it was heard at the trial.
Hill’s fatal injury was a 21cm stab to the heart. Burke sustained a large cut to the neck, among other stab wounds, while Ofori-Akuffo died from a 12.5cm chest wound piercing her heart. Drummonds had internal organ damage from back and neck wounds.
Jacques had only visited the victims’ home twice before attacking them, the court heard.
Ofori-Akuffo, a nurse, sometimes cared for her cancer-stricken mother, Hill, at the south London house, while Drummonds was staying there during flat renovations.
Burke was a trained chef employed by Westminster City Council as a sanitation worker.