City widow who won £300k casino jackpot hacked to death in Jamaica
Monday 17th February 2020
Former Erdington shopkeeper Evadney Gayle, 67, had built a dream home on the island of her birth before her murder
A widow who scooped almost £300,000 in one magical night at a Birmingham casino has been savagely hacked to death in Jamaica.
The life-changing windfall helped former Birmingham shopkeeper Evadney Gayle build a dream home on the island of her birth.
The palatial property, in St Tooties, an unspoilt, palm-fringed paradise in Jamaica's Manchester parish, became the setting for her barbaric murder.
The 67-year-old grandmother had lived in Reservoir Road, Edgbaston, and was a popular figure. For many years, she ran a busy Jamaican greengrocers on Dudley Road.
Before that, Mrs Gayle owned a fashion store with her late husband Dennis.
She is yet another "returnee" -Jamaican-born UK citizens who start a new life back in the land of their birth - to die violently.
Dreadlocked Evadney was a friend to Lionel Martin, better known to fans as Saxa, the saxophonist with top two-tone band The Beat.
She was featured in the Birmingham Mail in 2003 after winning the casino fortune.
The article was captioned: "Evadney Gayle nets the highest ever UK win from a £1 stake on a national game - £290,684.52 from just a £1 bet!"
News of her murder in November has stunned Birmingham's Afro-Caribbean community.
One close friend, who asked not to be named, said: "She was a lovely, lovely lady. When she said she was going to Jamaica, I told her, 'don't fight any issues about land, don't go there and fight people for land - it's not worth it'.
"There are people returning to Jamaica every day, hundreds of thousands have returned back home."
Commenting on her friend's grisly death, she added: "When they do that in Jamaica, they make sure they are dead.
"It's usually about a family feud over land, jobs or money. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, it's not done by strangers."
Byron Christian, a regular customer at Mrs Gayle's shop, said: "She was a proper business person. Very chatty, very popular. Her shop was a real meeting place.
"It's tragic, very tragic."
Close friend Leroy James, a Dudley Road restaurant worker, said: "I was shocked, every one is shocked. She was such a nice person."
A member of the Birmingham Association of Jamaican Nationals said: "It's shocking, she was always saying she was going back to Jamaica. Her shop on Dudley Road sold Caribbean food and was well known."
Evadney has been added to the list of Birmingham residents violently killed in Jamaica.
In 2014, businessman Keith Murrain was abducted, stripped and had his throat cut shortly after arriving at Jamaica's Norman Manley airport.
In 2018, Birmingham charity worker Delroy Walker, who, like Evadney, had returned to start a new life in the land of his birth, was stabbed to death in his Rio Nuevo home.
As yet, no-one has been convicted for the murders.
The list of murdered returnees - UK citizens who scrimped and saved to return to Jamaica - is disturbingly long and getting longer with each year.
Following Evadney's death, Percival LaTouche, President of the Jamaica Association for the Resettlement of Returning Residents, has urged those considering coming back to the island permanently to think again.
"Jamaica has become a fertile place to commit murder," he warned. He alleged last year saw a 47 per cent rise in returnee murders. In all, there were 25 murders.
Mr LaTouche added: "The type of murders, the barbarity, the brutalism, the way that people are being killed, the chopping death of Ms Gayle... I am not encouraging anybody to come back here to live."
He is adamant the lives of well over 200 ex-pats have been snuffed out since 2000. In 2017, eight of them were British.
Friends said Mrs Gayle, whose husband died in a car crash in the late 80s, travelled to the West Indies two years ago, but regularly returned to Birmingham.
The mother of two daughters and two sons had moved to the home she had built in St Toolies only three weeks before the November 17 murder.
Her body was discovered at 7pm by a relative. Jamaican newspapers reported that the pensioner had been "viciously chopped to death".
A nephew, living on the island, told the Jamaican Star: This incident has shaken our family. Everybody's messed up because of the way she died. Nobody has taken it good. I don't even sleep from last night."
Local councillor Claudia Morant-Baker described the victim as a nature lover. She was known to neighbours as "Miss Birdie".
Coun Morant-Baker said: "The springs are behind her house, she loved nature and that is why she decided to stay here.
"She has been back and forth for a few years, but she settled here for a few months, probably a year. It has been three weeks that she would have moved in the house. Sunday night would have made three weeks.
"Sunday night when I saw her lying in that pool of blood, I cried. It could have been me, my mother or sister who was taken away so brutally."
Mrs Gayle's death brought the 2019 death toll in Manchester - a parish of only 320 square miles - to 36.
It is understood an arrest has been made and the suspect was known to Mrs Gayle.
With the body count growing, Birmingham community activist Desmond Jaddoo, who has been in contact with Mrs Gayle's family, urged would-be returnees to approach the life-changing experience with eyes open.
And he is critical of the Jamaican government for failing to provide the services, support and infrastructure those coming back to the island need.
He had a simple tip for UK residents prepared to plunge into a totally different lifestyle. "Go and have a taster," he said last night. "Go for three months, then come back. Establish your presence.
"I think security is an issue, not just for returnees, but also those deported to Jamaica. The support mechanism is non-existent.
"It is not for me to tell people to go or not to go, I can only urge people to assess their individual circumstances. If people know there are family disputes or there are issues in the area, they must take those into consideration.
"You need to dot the "i's" and cross the "t's" and measure the risk.
"There are families returning who are open to exploitation because there are no support services for them. If you have doubts about returning, address those doubts first and foremost."