By Caribbean News Now contributor
HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Bermuda has denied temporary work permits to a Canadian film crew producing a documentary about the unsolved rape and murder of a teenage girl visiting the island from Canada in 1996.
According to Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy, the Canadian production team was denied permits to work in Bermuda after careful consideration of the "potential reputational risks".
Rebecca Middleton was raped and murdered on her 17th birthday while vacationing in Bermuda. Two men were charged in the crime, but only one with murder. The charges were later dropped for lack of evidence.
Speaking to regional media in 2007, Dr Carolyn Shuman, a psychologist who lived in Bermuda and the United States said: “Rebecca Middleton, was 17 years old and was visiting Bermuda, from Canada, with her best friend, Jasmine Meens, and was murdered 3 July 1996 at Ferry Reach, a remote location in Bermuda.”
Shuman said that Middleton was stabbed, tortured, raped and murdered after accepting a ride with two men, who agreed they would take her home because taxis did not keep their promise to pick up the girls. Another man carried Jasmine home safely.
“Two local men were arrested nine days after Rebecca was killed,” Shuman added.
“The attorney general accepted a story of ‘consensual sex’ from Kirk Mundy, 20, one of the accused, despite that Rebecca was cut and stabbed at least 35 times.
“Without awaiting DNA results, Mundy pleaded guilty to being an accomplice. Later, police and the AG could not ignore his primary role. Justis Smith, charged with pre-meditated murder was set free after a judge ruled ‘no case to answer’ in a move that the Privy Council in London termed ‘astonishing.’
“However, owing to Bermuda law, the ruling could not be appealed,” Shuman explained.
As a result of the numerous errors in the prosecution of the alleged perpetrators and double jeopardy, no one was charged with the murder. Due to the heinous nature of the crime, the lack of prosecution and the persistence of the Middleton family in seeking justice, it became a high-profile case and attracted the work of Cherie Booth (the wife of the former British prime minister Tony Blair), who termed the failed prosecution "repugnant to justice."
Local member of parliament and shadow home affairs minister, Walter Roban, said that the murder of Rebecca Middleton is a horrific tragedy for her family and a disturbing and embarrassing page of Bermuda’s history.
“For everyone to move forward, this story should not be swept under the rug as those who do not learn from the past are often destined to repeat it. Since the Middleton tragedy, Bermuda has had multiple murders and deaths by manslaughter, with parents, families and friends still seeking some form of justice and closure,” Roban said.
He acknowledged that the thought of a potentially reputation-damaging documentary being produced is not a comfortable one but, despite this, he expressed concern at the manner in which these documentary producers have been refused entry into Bermuda while trying to tell this important and tragic story.
“The minister has cited the potential damage to Bermuda’s reputation but his attempt to suppress the story undoubtedly further tarnishes Bermuda’s reputation as a modern, sophisticated jurisdiction that believes in openness, honesty and transparency,” Roban said.
“Minister Fahy’s decision to ban this film crew is an affront to freedom of expression and we encourage him to reconsider his actions, reverse his decision, and grant temporary work permits to the film crew,” he concluded.