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Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Hon. Desmond McKenzie has strongly denounced the murder of Mr. O’Neil Collin, a homeless man whose body was found with the throat slashed in Port Maria, St. Mary yesterday (Sunday).

“What we know so far is that Mr. Collin’s body was found yesterday morning, near the Port Maria Police Station. He was well known to the St. Mary Poor Relief Department, and was a regular user of the Drop-In Centre in the parish. Indeed, staff members of the Poor Relief  Department were on a routine assignment to feed homeless persons when they encountered the tragic scene, which the police had started to process.

“O’Neil Collin was known as a quiet, unassuming man who largely kept to himself and had no known conflict with anyone. It is beyond baffling as to why anyone would want to hurt him, much more to destroy him in this heinous way. This is a terrible act, and I await the conclusion of the investigations by the Port Maria Police. I am also concerned about reports that another homeless person was beaten and is now in hospital, though thankfully his injuries are not considered life-threatening.

“Our homeless men and women are citizens of Jamaica, and their lives are no less valuable than our people who enjoy a better standard of living. I urge anyone who may have witnessed what happened to provide the police with any available facts. No civilized society can allow acts such as these to go by the wayside.

“While we do not yet know the circumstances of Mr. Collin’s death, I want to urge our homeless population to use the Night Shelters regularly not only for food and hygiene, but also for security. Almost all the attacks on our homeless citizens have taken place during the hours of darkness. We continue, through the Local Authorities, to appeal directly to them to make even greater use of the infrastructure and services that these facilities provide.”