Entertainment

The Innocence of Guilt

Mary Lynch story takes to the stage

By Richard Johnson
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 07, 2018

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It was one of the most publicised murders, trials and convictions of its time.

In 1992 Mary Lynch was charged with the murder of her 54-year-old husband Leary — a high-profile executive at the National Commercial Bank. Mr Lynch had been reported missing after he failed to show up for work. Upon investigation Mrs Lynch was arrested and charged, after human skeletal remains found in bushes weeks later were positively identified through as being that of the missing banker through records. The post-mortem report pointed to death being as a result of 25 chop wounds.

Mrs Lynch testified that she was attacked by her late husband and, during a struggle, she get hold of the machete and inflicted several wounds. She was found guilty of murder by a 12-member jury and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

After 14 years behind bars at the Fort Augusta Adult Correctional Centre, Jamaica's lone prison for women, she was released on May 18, 2007. This came after several appeals and the courts no longer deemed her a danger to society.

After 11 years of being a free woman, Mary Lynch is ready to tell her side of the story.

She is collaborating with Whirlwind Entertainment's Michael Dawson to write, direct and produce a play, followed by a book and a documentary detailing what lead to that fateful night in 1992 when her husband was murdered.

“She called me through a contact and told me she was trying to tell her story, as she believes there was a conspiracy against her during the trial. I was away at college when this incident took place but was aware of it and that it would have been a great project to take on. It becomes even more timely given the buzz regarding domestic abuse and the #me too movement, so we have decided to go with it,” said Dawson.

He noted that putting together this story has been a challenge, based on the complexity of the case and the fact that Mary Lynch's story will go against the grain of what is documented and what many persons have believed to be facts.

“It involved a lot of research... hours sitting with Mary, who is now 76 years old, to get her story. We have also conducted a number of interviews which have been recorded and could provide footage for the documentary in the future. I have produced about 10 plays in the past and this is the first one that has had to be read and viewed by the attorneys so many times to avoid any issue. We are not adding any dramatic licence to this script; there is no adjusting of her story to make it more believable. So whether or not you believe her, this is her story,” Dawson explained.

The play is the first of the trilogy. This one-woman production is set to open in early November and will see Actor Boy Award-winning actress Rosie Murray in the title role.

“This is a dream role for an actress, so I'm all fired up,” Murray told the Sunday Observer.

“When you check out the news and hear of the number of women being killed and the levels of domestic abuse, I believe it is time for us to speak. There are aspects of this story that nobody has heard and Mary strongly believes had these been brought to light during the trial she would not have been sentenced. We must realise that she too has a story and this play will give Mary Lynch a chance to speak,” she continued.

Murray has no trepidation in taking on this role which many may see as controversial. She noted that she has had to prepare herself fully for the emotional levels which will be required to be true to Lynch and her story.

“It's not me... it's a character so I had no reservations. Actresses are loved, liked or hated for the characters they play; it's part of what I do so I have no fear. in fact, I am intrigued by the complexities of the character. Since I signed on we have met and it has been very easy and relaxed. She has been a real study to make my portrayal true. I am looking forward to this,” she added.

Murray was the unanimous pick for Dawson and his production team.

“We were a little biased, as the last time she was in one of our productions, Tek Yuh Hand Offa Mi, she received and Actor Boy Award nomination. But that aside, the fact that she recently told her own truth in her one-woman production Slice of Life, and the fact that she is a brilliant actress sealed the deal. Rosie is brave as an actress and this play is going to ruffle a few feathers, and she has no qualms in staying true to her character,” he said.

The Innocence of Guilt: The Mary Lynch Story is projected to run from November to February at the former Green Gables Theatre in St Andrew, then on to rural parishes before going overseas following the Easter holidays of 2019.

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