Derek Spalding was jailed for life on Wednesday for the murder of Shaki Crockwell. *Photo by Mikaela Ian Pearman
Derek Spalding was jailed for life on Wednesday for the murder of Shaki Crockwell. *Photo by Mikaela Ian Pearman

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7: Derek Spalding was today jailed for life with a minimum of 38 years for the murder of footballer Shaki Crockwell.

Mr Crockwell, 25, was gunned down on the railway trail in Loyal Hill, Devonshire in August 2007.

Spalding, 36, shot him once in the back of the head.

The court heard Spalding lured Mr Crockwell there to pick up a drug package.

Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves today called the murder a “drug killing” as Mr Crockwell sold drugs for Spalding and didn’t pay him what he was owed.

This is the second time he has received a lengthy prison sentence by using a firearm.

In 1997, he was sentenced to 28 years for armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and using a firearm to commit an indictable offence.

Sentencing Spalding, Mr. Greaves said: "This was a murder, a premeditated murder carried out by a very manipulative, cold and calculating assassin in execution style.

"His record indicates that the likelihood of his rehabilitation is substantially removed.

“A sentence in this case therefore must emphasize retribution and the protection of the society from him because there is every indication that this defendant, if given the opportunity to reenter society, is likely to continue his drug dealing, gun running and dealings with firearms and even murder.”

He continued: “The only mitigating circumstance I can find in this case is perhaps some semblance of provocation from a lay person’s perspective rather than from any perspective of legal principle, suffered or imagined by the defendant by way of the actions of the victim.

“And by that I am referring to the victim talking of the defendant’s drug selling or otherwise disposing of them.

“Keeping the proceeds and refusing or failing to return them to the defendant, thus causing the defendant to feel a sense of disrespect and in words according to the evidence, a sense that he was being toyed with, played with, made a fool out of.”

But Mr Greaves said because Spalding or the defense never brought this up, it would carry “little or no weight”.

Speaking on Spalding’s previous convictions, Mr Greaves said: “After discovering a change in the law to be paroled after a third of sentence, he immediately started his plan as to how he could get out.

“He entered into programmes that were available.”

After Spalding was released in March 2007, he went on a voyage to South Carolina on the Spirit of Bermuda.

“His acting must have been of the most convincing kind in a country in which people who commit crimes of his sort find themselves on the stop list.

“He was able to circumnavigate that, to use a marine term, and set sail to North America where again he put his plan into action, bringing back to this country somewhere in the range of three of so firearms.

“I think I am able to say rehabilitation of this defendant is substantially removed.

“To have gone through so much and to have manipulated so many, to have pretended such a substantial change in order or in the end to have achieved what he did, I think it’s convincing evidence that this is a leopard whose spots shall not be changed.”

Spalding must serve 38 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

He was also given ten years for using a firearm to commit an indictable offense, which is to run concurrent.

Mr Crockwell is survived by his two sons.