When love turns deadly
By Maria Bradshaw | Sun, January 27, 2013 - 12:01 AM
MICHAEL GODDARD knows how it feels to love so strongly that you are pushed to the limits to commit the ultimate crime.
Twelve years ago, in a fit of rage, he shot his then girlfriend twice in the head and several times in the back in broad daylight in front of several people, including her two young children.
Luckily, she survived the attack, even though one of the bullets to the head left her blind in one eye.
Filled with remorse, Goddard went to court and pleaded guilty to wounding with intent and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. At the time he had told the judge it was just too much for a man in love to bear.
Released from prison last December 3, Goddard now wants to chart a new path for himself, especially in terms of his relationship with women.
But what could have caused him to commit such a violent act against a woman he loved? He put it down to a lack of communication and intense jealousy on his part.
Speaking to the SUNDAY SUN from his St Michael home, he admitted there were problems in the relationship.
“I believe it was from a lack of communication from both of us . . . . I did see a picture and the picture that I saw, when I sat down and studied it, I wasn’t in [it]. It was not the picture that I wanted to see.”
To dull the pain and get that picture out of his mind, Goddard turned to alcohol.
“I just started drinking and holding it back inside of me when I should have gone to her instead and tried to talk it over.”
As an island constable he knew his way around, so there was no problem getting hold of a gun. And on June 18, 2001, as his rage started to build and the pain in his head became unbearable, he telephoned the one person he knew would listen – his mother.
“I did tell my mum that I felt a bit depressed and she asked me what happened. I talked to her but I really couldn’t take it. She told me [not to] leave home, that she coming to talk to me. But I just tried to get where I was going before she got there and I blame myself for it because I should have waited for my mother to come home and I would never have been involved in that.”
What he got involved in was the shooting of his lover.
Goddard waylaid the woman, who had been taken by a friend in a van to pick up her children from St Matthew’s Primary School.
As the van turned into Jackmans Service Station, he pulled her out and shot her at point-blank range several times before riding off on a motorcycle.
“When I left all I could hear were the shots letting go all the time, all the time. I could not believe what I had done. I went on the run for two months and during that time I kept listening to the radio, hoping and praying that nothing serious had happened to her; that she would pull through.
“I said, ‘Cha boy, look what I gone and do’. All of that could have been avoided. I felt so bad that I was trying to get hold of her and tell her I was sorry and how I felt but she was scared of me.”
He even went as far as trying to kill himself by drinking a poisonous substance. However,
he was picked up by police just in time at the house where he was seeking refuge and taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Filled with guilt and remorse, Goddard said he wasted no time in pleading guilty.
“It did not make any sense to go and waste the court’s time. I got 12 years but, to be honest, that crime that I do, as a man who worked with the law, I knew it was a serious offence.
“I told my mother and my family that all I wanted them to do was to take care of my baby for me – my daughter who was five years old at the time.
“I was looking at 25 years and I told my mother, ‘Mum, I don’t want you to break down but I looking at 25 years because this is a serious thing I do’.”
During his time behind bars Goddard not only sought counselling, but also made up his mind to expand his skills.
“I am a tradesman so I taught the inmates carpentry and I also learned welding and painting and I worked in the bodywork shop because prison is a place of rehabilitation. For me, it did not make any sense going in with one trade and coming out with the same trade.”
In the initial stages he tried to contact the woman he had shot to apologize.
“I was talking to my counsellor who was involved in the women’s organization because I wanted to go to one of the sessions and apologize for what I had done.
I did not mean to hurt her because she was a girl who was there for me and I appreciated her.”
He also had to allay the woman’s fears when he was being released from prison.
“The counsellor told me that she felt fearful, but I said to tell her not to be afraid. I told her it didn’t make any sense; she had her life to live and I [had] my life to live. I [had] my daughter to come out for [so she should] carry on with her life and not study me.”
Since his return home, Goddard has been spending time with his family and bonding with his daughter, who is now 17.
He admits that he is still fearful of how women will perceive him.
“The only fear that I really have is if women would want to accept me after an incident like that. I used to talk to a lot of females when I was in prison and since I came home, there is a friend who has been there for me. But I don’t want to get too close to any women . . . . I prefer to be at home with my family.”
All those painful memories came back to haunt him two weeks ago when news spread about a man who had shot his estranged wife’s lover.
“When I heard about it I said we men don’t know what we are doing. We’re just throwing away our lives,” he said, adding that the penalty was “stiff” for men who abused women.
His advice to men: “Some of us love too strong and probably put all our eggs in one place. We can love strong and they can love strong too because it doesn’t make any sense going into a relationship and not loving that way.
“But you’ve got to know when to pull back and check your emotions. If you see something that you don’t like, don’t just go off with your opinions; talk to the person and get the facts.”
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