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Vaz says enough
After 27 years MP addresses Dianne Smith murder rumours
Sunday, March 31, 2013

FROM the grave of an innocent schoolgirl, on this Easter Sunday, comes a cry for justice against those responsible for the spilling of her blood.
But Dianne Smith cries from the after-life, not just for herself, for she knows that there is one other whose innocence has also been stolen and whose crucifixion was equally undeserved.

For 27 years, Daryl Wesley Vaz has been locked up in a prison of pain and hurt, dogged through every phase of his life by the nastiest of orchestrated rumours that, among other things, he raped and murdered Smith, a student of the Immaculate Conception High School.
Smith was on her way to school along Old Stony Hill Road on May 4, 1983 when she was raped, stabbed, strangled and her body dumped in a gully.
In a sense, Dianne Smith’s misery is over. Her lithe 14-year-old body, battered and bruised and robbed of life, is forever beyond the pale of human cruelty.
But for Daryl Vaz the misery lingers on. And it is never more painful than when he must admit to himself that — forget opponents, political and otherwise — even among party colleagues, with whom he must eat, drink and share political thought, this dreadful treachery is perpetrated. No doubt for personal and political agendas.
Yet, he draws deep consolation from a reassuring call from then Opposition Leader Michael Manley in 1986 who, “speaking as a father myself”, condemned the graffiti and accusation hurled from a political campaign at Birdsucker Lane, Barbican, St Andrew.
“He called first my father (Douglas Vaz) and then me to apologise. I have always accepted that apology as genuine and not as if he were calling to accept his party’s responsibility,” said Vaz, his face now a mask of gratitude and emotion.
Vaz is not the first and is unlikely to be the last to be wrongly accused of a crime he did not commit. The question that might never be answered is why was he targeted in the first place.
The accusation first surfaced in 1986, three years after the murder. His name never came up during the intense police investigations that followed, neither was it mentioned even once in the 1984 court trial of the two men accused of the murder.
“There is absolutely no evidence to connect him (Vaz) to the case,” said Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Isadore ‘Dick’ Hibbert, the top detective who helped to lead the investigations 30 years ago.
“In fact, his name was never called at any time during the intense investigations started in 1983 and I am very puzzled as to why he was subsequently associated with this murder,” Hibbert told the Sunday Observer. “Whenever we were investigating a case, we looked into everything, including rumours, to find leads. The name Daryl Vaz just didn’t come up at all.”
Convinced that he could not be his own best defender, Vaz has carried the burden, maintained silence, toughing it out but always knowing that it could not be easy for his wife, children, other family members and close friends.
In a 2009 interview on the hustings, his obviously inlove wife, Ann-Marie Vaz, told a newspaper reporter that politics had damaged their marriage.
“It’s been exhausting for me as a wife and mother. To see what my husband has been through to prove his passion for the constituency has been emotionally draining,” she told writer Howard Campbell. “I never wanted anything to do with politics. It caused a lot of damage to our marriage initially.
“…I’ve always known of his persona and things that people said. Those are things I won’t get into,” she added.
Friends and supporters of the West Portland member of parliament have started to ask Vaz why has he broken his silence now and are questioning the motive for the resurgence of the rumour. Why not let this terrible thing remain in the grave where it belongs?
“Even Nelson Mandela got justice after 27 years. It’s my time now,” Vaz insisted.
The issue resurrected itself last week in a rather innocuous way, in a popular weekly feature titled ‘Crimes that rocked the nation’, written for the Sunday Observer by Sybil Hibbert, the veteran journalist and Jamaica’s greatest court reporter. She is also the wife of Retired ACP Hibbert, himself rated among the island’s top detectives of his time and, importantly, who investigated the Dianne Smith rape/murder case.
Mrs Hibbert, now in her 70s, and whose name is highly respected in the legal fraternity here, wrote: “Before dealing with the evidence that unfolded before the Home Circuit Court in this case, let me state categorically that the rumour noised abroad about the politician (Daryl Vaz), now member of parliament, being connected with, or having anything to do with this murder, is absolutely untrue.
“Apart from the fact that this politician’s name was never mentioned in the proceedings, my husband Isadore Hibbert, was one of the detectives investigating this murder. The most thorough police investigations revealed no such connections; he was early on the scene and confirms this. Besides, after spending 40 years and seven months in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, he retired with an unblemished record after acting as (high as) deputy commissioner in charge of crime for two years…”
If Vaz had wanted to maintain his silence, he could no longer. The article brought out his enemies, some internal and external, he said. In a spate of cruel e-mails ignoring the facts as stated by the lead investigator, they again accused him of the murder.
One of the e-mail authors who has been most persistent and uses the pseudonym “Anecia Brown” wrote: “All members of Jamaica media who know of the connection of Daryl Vaz to Dianne Smith murder please contact City Desk at 306-657-6442 or 306-657-6258.”
The e-mail was sent to all the media houses and individuals including Abe Dabdoub; A Creary; A J Nicholson, the foreign minister; Peter Bunting, the national security minister; and Mark Golding, justice minister.
The phone numbers when called by media houses turned out to be those of a Canadian newspaper, The Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
Responding to the Sunday Observer’s query about the e-mail, Managing Editor Heather Persson said: “No such person (Anecia Brown) works for The Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the newsroom had nothing to do with that e-mail.”
Vaz, as he has always done in face of adversity, pledged to do everything to find the truth, even after 27 years, and unmask the authors of the emails and bring them to justice, not just for himself but for others who have suffered similar attacks upon their reputation.
If there is any doubt about his seriousness, one only has to recall that he has an unrelated case in a Florida court in which he accused Jamaican-born Miami attorney David Rowe of being behind an e-mail which libelled him, former prime ministers P J Patterson and Bruce Golding, Christopher Tufton and Gordon ‘Butch’’ Stewart, among others. Rowe denied the allegations.
Born on December 15, 1963, Daryl Wesley Philip Vaz is a man of destiny. He has had to prove himself every step of the way and be ready to roll with the punches. It’s what he’s now very good at and what he’s done all his controversial life.
One of his most painful bouts has been the dual citizenship debacle against the PNP’s Abe Dabdoub, who dragged him before the courts trying to unseat him from the West Portland constituency on grounds that by being a United States citizen, Vaz couldn’t constitutionally sit in the Jamaican Parliament.
In the ensuing by-election ordered by Chief Justice Zaila McCalla, Vaz not only won but increased his victory margin.

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