Vincentian Nationals Get Lengthy Jail Sentences For Murder And Robbery

(CMC) – Two St Vincent and the Grenadines nationals have been given lengthy jail sentences for their roles in the robbery and murder in England of a 71-year-old pensioner in September 2022.

Xyaire Howard, 24, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum jail term of 31 years, while his girlfriend, Chelsea Grant, 28, was jailed for 15 years on charges of robbery and one attempted robbery.

The court was told that Howard spent more than £13,000 (One British pound=US$1.26 cents) of Susan Hawkey’s money after he killed her.

Judge Judy Khan KC said the couple had been motivated by “greed and dishonesty and had “terrorised” Hawkey and subjected her to “humiliation and degradation” to get access to her money.

After Hawkey’s murder the couple made 146 transactions, using the slain pensioner’s bank card, purchasing luxury items, including perfume, television set, portable speakers, telephones, clothes, shoes, sunglasses, watches and handbags.

The prosecution said that Hawkey’s bank account went from a balance of more than £16,000 to just £3,434.03 pounds.

In October, Howard was convicted for murder while Grant was freed of that charge during the trial in which they blamed each other for the killing.

Howard and Grant each pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud, and were convicted of one count of attempted robbery.

Grant was convicted of three counts of robbery while Howard was convicted of one charge of robbery. He admitted a second count of robbery and was cleared of a third.

Police found next to the murdered woman’s body a condom containing both Howard’s semen and Grant’s DNA.

However, Grant told the court her DNA was on the condom because she and Howard had sex regularly and he never showered.

Howard admitted tying Hawkey up with tape but said he left her alive and well.

Grant became pregnant with Howard’s child during the time of the murder and she gave birth to a baby boy while in custody in May.

The trial heard that the couple had first robbed Hawkey in the street then continued to prey on her at her home before Howard tied her up with tape and his shoelaces and forced her to give him her PIN number.

He then strangled her to death with another shoelace and left her body in her home to rot while they went on a shopping spree.

The accused both denied the murder charge but a jury convicted Howard.

“After the defendants had obtained both her debit card and her PIN, they went on a spending spree, spending thousands of pounds on luxury goods for themselves, including perfume, designer goods, a new television, portable speakers, telephones and accessories, clothing, shoes, sunglasses, watches and handbags,” the prosecutor, Annabel Darlow told the court.

Howard and Grant made 146 different transactions with Hawkey’s card.

Hawkey’s body was discovered on September 26 when a concerned neighbour noticed she had not put her bins out.

Police found Hawkey’s body lying on a sofa. She had been bound, blindfolded with tape and still had a shoelace around her neck.

“All of her lower clothing, that is her trousers and underwear had been removed — all she was wearing was a top and that top had been cut down the front,” the prosecutor said.

“An item of clothing had been placed over her head and her body was under a duvet that was found over her corpse.

“A used condom was found which contained Mr Howard’s semen and cellular material from Ms Grant –and that was found in the same room as her body together with an opened condom wrapper which bore Mr Howard’s fingerprints,” Darlow told the jury.

“The ligature around Ms Hawkey’s neck had been tightened with sufficient force to break one of the bones in her neck. She was strangled by one of these defendants in an attack motivated purely by greed and self interest. They wanted to stop Ms Hawkey so they could spend her money at will. They wanted to stop Ms Hawkey ringing the police,” the prosecutor said.

Police arrested Howard and Grant outside a store where the murdered woman’s card was repeatedly used. They were waiting for a bus at the time.