A stab to the heart over $100

France Nooks loses gallant fight; now family wants closure

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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WHEN France Nooks was stabbed in his heart two weeks ago he thought that he would have survived the attack.

He was exhausted from making his way to the nearby Andrews Memorial Hospital, but not to the point where he could not explain his condition or describe his attacker before succumbing to his injury.

Nooks clenched the hands of his aunt and uncle who sat by his side, having been contacted by the hospital with news no guardian should ever have to hear.

They were losing him from the wound which caused his heart to bleed profusely, but the 26-year-old, who returned to the island from living with his mom in The Bahamas over 10 years ago, was convinced that he would survive.

“He said to me 'Aunty, he thought he got me. He thought he got me aunty, but he didn't. I held onto the knife so that he couldn't sink it deeper. He didn't win aunty; I won,'” his aunt Margo Douglas recalled when she spoke to the Jamaica Observer on Thursday with the rest of his family.

On the evening of February 6, the young artiste had visited his aunt at her office before leaving for Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road.

The Sunday Observer was told that he took a taxi on the Half-Way-Tree to Papine route in the St Andrew capital, but before long an argument had developed between him and the driver of the vehicle.

“My nephew came to our office and we had a wonderful day. We had lunch and he was so excited because we were doing a contract to send off to Europe. There were so many possibilities. He featured on an album Havana Meets Kingston and it is doing extremely well on 'Billboard' so there was a lot of buzz around it, and he was so excited and full of life.

“He left and said 'Aunty I'm going to meet Melec at Bob Marley Museum' — Melec is my son — and I just remembered his face going through the door. He said 'Aunty bye'. This is about minutes to four o'clock. Around 4:14 pm we got a call that we needed to rush to hospital,” Douglas revealed.

She said that when they arrived at the hospital, Nooks had just been taken out of the X-ray room to the waiting area, where he was being observed.

“I was advised that he was stabbed in the heart and that it was bleeding profusely and he needed emergency surgery. I went into the room and he was talking to me. He said, 'Aunty, I went into a $100 Half-Way-Tree robot taxi and when I gave the man my fare he said it's peak hours so it's no longer $100, it's $200'.

“He said, 'Aunty, I even turned to the man and said why would you not tell me before I came into the cab.' He held out his hand and he squeezed my hand. He was so hopeful; he thought he was going to live,” Douglas said before she broke down in tears.

“He said, 'Aunty, look at my left hand. This man was trying to push it into my heart and I pulled it out.' So, we thought he was going to live. I mean the doctors were telling us that he needed to be rushed to the hospital and that he needed emergency surgery.

“I was in such misery with that hospital because I kept on saying let's move him, but they said that they couldn't move him until they got an answer from UHWI (University Hospital of the West Indies). By the time they got the answer and the ambulance came it was too late. They had to do emergency surgery although they had already advised us that they cannot manage this operation. We had to wait a next half an hour for a surgeon who they said was qualified to come in. At 7:40 pm he was pronounced dead.

“It has been so hard on us. For me, I can't even drive past Andrews. It's rough,” she said, adding that Nooks said his attacker had locks with a shaved face.

She said that the family has since grown frustrated with conflicting stories. And coupled with that is the issue that no witness has come forward and that the police have given no information about the incident.

“We are grieving. We need as much assistance as possible. There's no way a taxi would leave Half-Way-Tree empty, so I know that somebody must have seen something. We heard that the taxi man came out of the car, dragged him and stabbed him in his heart. Somebody must've been driving past at the time. Somebody must have seen it. Please come forward,” the woman begged.

“He was stabbed for $100 that he, the taxi man, added on.”

At the same time, Nooks' father, Robert, expressed frustration as he told the Sunday Observer that his son's funeral is on hold because his body has not yet been released.

“That's the kind of thing that's frustrating me right now. It's not even about finding the killer. It is about getting the body and bringing some dignity and some closure to the family,” he said.

Douglas said that all platforms will be used to bring about justice for her nephew.

“We're not going to take justice into our own hands. We want the system to work for us because what happened is unfair. It's surreal; it's hard to take. It's hard to wake up every day without France in my life,” she said.

The Half-Way-Tree Criminal Investigation Branch, when contacted, said that it could not provide any information to the Sunday Observer regarding whether or not a suspect was in custody.

The officer who answered the phone and did not give his name said that he could not be sure he was speaking to the Sunday Observer.

“I'm sure you could appreciate me not giving you the information. I don't know your voice and I don't know if you are who you say you are,” said the man before he hung up.

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