‘No Holiday Inn’: A typical cell at Westgate has the bare minimum facilities — a wash basin, lavatory, bed and table. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
‘No Holiday Inn’: A typical cell at Westgate has the bare minimum facilities — a wash basin, lavatory, bed and table. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
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FRIDAY, JUNE 29: Murderers and gunmen have spoken candidly of their experiences behind bars in a bid to deter others following in their footsteps.

Four Westgate inmates went before the cameras yesterday to ‘dispel the myth’ that prison was like a ‘Holiday Inn’.

Leroy Symons, Anthony Swan, Kellan Lewis and Kyle Sousa took turns explaining how a series of wrong choices had led them to end up in Westgate, and they urged other young males not make the same mistakes.

Symons was acquitted of the gang-related murder of Shane Minors last year but has since been jailed for three-and-a-half years for other unrelated offences.

He said: “There are young men running around the streets now thinking that life is just a joke. Life is what you make it.

“This gang stuff has cost me a lot of friends but it is not worth it.

“Just let it go. There is nothing you can get out of being in a gang.

“It’s not family. Family would not condone the negative things.

“When I was out on the street, for my family, just to see me alive was a blessing to them at the end of each day.

“Life is too short to be wasting on this gang stuff.

“There is nothing positive coming out of it.

“I was part of Friswell’s Hill and look where I ended up. Every day the officer locks my door at 3pm.

“Look at what you want to accomplish or you will end up here or St John’s Cemetery.”

The 21-year-old said that his experience in Westgate had not been easy, but it had helped him to see life with a different perspective.

Struggle

The father-of-one added: “I have had my struggles as an inmate.

“People say this is a ‘Holiday Inn’ — far from it.

“Westgate is a place that will make you or break you depending on how you view things.

“It can destroy you if you come in thinking that you can kick back, relax and do your time.

“It depends on what you want for yourself. It has not been an easy road. I am a father. My son is two next August.

“Being away from him. I thought it would destroy me. But then I thought what would he say if he could talk.

“Would he want to me to give up or tell me to keep strong.

“It gets me through each day. And every day is a struggle in here.”

Attorney General Kim Wilson urged families not to let their children become ‘Westgate statistics’.

She added:  “While Bermuda’s prison facilities do not rank amongst the most abysmal penitentiaries in the world, they are not places of comfort by any stretch of the imagination.

“Prison cells are standard-sized locked cages that keep men confined in limited spaces until they are allowed to roam in other confines under the watchful eyes of their guards. 

“My message today is to implore our young people not to engage in the kinds of activities which will result in them being sent here to Westgate to waste their lives.

“I am also appealing to parents, family and friends to please take hold of your children, relations and peers. Communicate with them, immerse yourselves in their lives to prevent them from going down this path and if necessary help us to bring them to justice so as to stop them from continuing down that road, or to lose their own life.

“Remind them that living is about making choices and that making the wrong choice can lead to them becoming another Westgate statistic or a force for destruction in our midst that must be removed.”