‘Positive impact’ Commissioner Eddie Lamb with eight members of the Lifeline initiative at Westgate prison. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
‘Positive impact’ Commissioner Eddie Lamb with eight members of the Lifeline initiative at Westgate prison. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
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To many, the inmates serving life at Westgate for murder deserve every hardship they face. But a small band of ‘lifers’ say they are trying to break the mould and doing positive things like charity drives and in-house support programmes. 

The Lifeline group is backed by Prison Commissioner Eddie Lamb.

Convicted killer Vernon Simons said: “It’s only fair and right that we get the chance to give back to the community. Just because we are locked up for serious crimes should not affect that. We are not monsters.”

Philip Bradshaw, serving life for the murder of Aquil Richardson, said: “We need people to believe in us. Some people think we don’t deserve to have any rights because of our crimes. I think of us as having made bad mistakes but that does not mean people should write us off.

“We want to show others we are still human beings.”


Some of Bermuda’s most recognisable criminals draw strength from Lifeline group 

Twice a week a small group of Westgate’s most notorious ‘lifers’ gather within the confines of the prison.

They meet to discuss initiatives designed to help a community that they hope has not given up on them.

And they aim to provide an in-house system of support for new inmates as well as those without a release date.

The Lifeline group has been trying to make a positive contribution to life inside and outside of Westgate’s walls for more than three years.

It has also pressed for changes in the law to allow inmates in Bermuda to donate blood.

Last Christmas the group’s members restored and repainted several bicycles that were given to schoolchildren.

Plans are already being put in place for a second bike project later this year as well as a prison float in the May 24 parade.

The group is also looking to expand its services to the community as further proof that positive contributions can emerge from unlikely places.

Lifeline’s chairperson and convicted killer, Kenneth Burgess, says the group represents ‘change’.

Burgess, who was jailed for life over the Cooper twins murder in 2005, added: “We are willing and happy to assist more charities in any shape they may need us. We have also spoken about ways we could help nursing homes.

“We would also like to contribute to the wider community in the form of speaking engagements and be more actively involved in speaking to schools and youth groups to direct or redirect some of their minds so they can avoid the pit falls that have ensnared us.”

Lifeline has already helped the Salvation Army, Bermuda Autism Support and Education and cancer charities on the island. 

And last Christmas’ donation of restored bikes to schoolchildren prompted praise inside and outside of Westgate.

Vernon Simons, who was jailed for life in 2009 for his part in the murder of  Matthew Clarke, records the minutes of every Lifeline meeting.

He said: “The inspiration we got from giving the bikes to those children was huge. It shows that we can have a positive impact.

“It put smiles on our faces as well as the children’s.”

Lifeline has proved to be just that for its members.

Simons said: “This group to me is partnership. It inspires you to look forward to another day. It helps you practise humility and discipline.

“The more positive things we can do the better.

“It’s only fair and right that we get the chance to give back to the community.

“Just because we are locked up for serious crimes and long amounts of time should not affect that. We are not monsters.”

Lifeline’s Vice Chairperson, Philip Bradshaw, sees the group as a ‘family’.

Bradshaw, who was jailed for the murder of Aquil Richardson on Boxing Day, 2007, added: “If we have a problem we come together — and when you don’t know when you are going to get out you need that support.

“It is amazing the stuff that we can do if we are allowed. We just need people to believe in us.

“Some people think we don’t deserve to have any rights because of the crimes we have committed.

“I think of us as having made bad mistakes but that does not mean people should write us off.

“We want to show others we are still human beings and not the type of person they think we were.

“We have all got goals. The day we stop looking for goals is the day we become an obstacle to ourselves.”

The group’s membership also includes convicted killers Antonio Myers, Jermaine Pearman, Darronte Dill and Kevin Warner.

Dill, who was kicked out of the group for bad behaviour but has since been readmitted, said: “This group represents something positive in my life.

“I get strength from it at weak times.

“It helps me think differently about my situation.”

Pearman says the group comes to the fore when there is “no light at the end of the tunnel”.

Warner sees the group as a “positive outlet” that “makes me feel like at the end of the road things will work out”.

He adds: “When I first got my time the burden was unbearable, but thanks to this group I have come to see it as one of life’s obstacles.

“As Martin Luther King said: ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy’. I take that into every day now.”

Lifeline members are governed by their own strict Code of Conduct that allows for individuals to be thrown out of the group if they break either the prison or the group’s rules.

The group offers an inmate-mentoring programme to help new prisoners adjust to life on the inside.

Members take part in public speaking classes and the group continues its fight for the right of prisoners to donate blood.

Burgess told the Bermuda Sun: “Our objectives are to give men serving life sentences the chance to contribute positively to the facility we live in and the community we hope to return to.

“We recognise the UN’s Blood Donor Day on June 14 and we would like to see a blood donor clinic on or around that date at the prison. This is not about recognition for our group, it is about saving lives.

“Bermuda is always in need of blood and if people are willing to donate it makes sense they should be able to donate.”

Commissioner Eddie Lambe said: “Lifeline is a fantastic success story within Corrections in that it achieves a balance between having someone securely “locked up” and away from society for the transgressions they have committed, while at the same time providing them an opportunity to give back to the community from which they took.  It also works towards developing the individual such that they learn and acquire life skills that will enable them to become better men and better citizens.

“Our Department has a mandate to work towards changing lives for the better, irrespective of what they have done.  Lifeline is a vehicle that can transport people towards that positive change and we have already witnessed good examples of what a programme like this can do to transform lives.” 


From plumbing to preaching, ‘lifers’ outline their hopes for the future

Antonio Myers

Serving life for the murder of Kumi Harford in 2009.

“Since I have been in here I have been trying to learn a trade. I have been learning from the prison plumber and he has been helping me to learn the trade and show me the skills of the profession. 

I would like to get a job while I am in the prison, and plumbing would provide me with a skill. Looking beyond that I would like to work with computers; in today’s world there are always going to be opportunities with computers.” 






Jermaine Pearman

Serving life for the murder of his estranged wife Shakeya DeRoza in 2009

“I come from a cooking family, and I am currently in the prison culinary club. 

I would like to be a chef at some point in the future. But more importantly I have children and I miss them greatly. I would like to be a part of their lives, but I have not seen them in a long time.” 








Darronte Dill

Serving life for double murder of Maxwell Brangman and Frederick Gilbert in 2008

“I believe my future is looking bright. My first goal is freedom but I know there is going to be a lot of sacrifice before I get there. 

“I have spent a lot of time in Maximum Security and LOP (loss of privileges) during my time in prison and that has meant a lot of mental stress. So moving forward I would like to train to be a psychologist, I am just waiting for the education courses to come to the prison. I would like to help others think and deal with stressful situations; that is what I would like to accomplish.” 






Kevin Warner

Serving life for the murder of Dekimo ‘Purple’ Martine in 2010.

“I have two goals. Firstly I would like to own my own clothing line and secondly I would like to become a preacher. 

“In the future I want to be able to preach the truth to many followers in a similar way to some of the great preachers of our time like Malcolm X or Martin Luther King.” 







Kenneth Burgess

Serving life for the murder of the Cooper twins in 2005.

“I want to build my character up. I have reconnected to my spiritual roots and it has made this journey that much easier. I want to re-establish relationships with my three children. That has been the most difficult part. I hope to be able to direct them and be a positive influence on their lives.

“But I also want to be a positive influence on our community and help people avoid the unnecessary trials and tribulations that I have gone through.” 






Philip Bradshaw

Serving life for the murder of Aquil Richardson in 2007

“My future and getting out of prison is a little different to these other guys because I am a foreign national and I don’t know if I will ever get parole. I have to stay in faith and I believe that with God all things are possible.  

”If I get out, I mean when I get out, I want to see my daughter and have that relationship. I have missed all her childhood and she will be all grown up. I hope she can accept me as her father. I also hope that one day I can be a businessman and show people that I can be a positive influence on society.” 






Vernon Simons

Serving life for his part in the murder of Matthew Clarke in 2009.

“I would like to be a chef. At the moment I work in the canteen and I am learning more about the profession in prison. In the future I would like to get a degree, maybe an associates degree. 

“I understand now that it is all about experience and I am looking forward to educating myself and making the best of my life.” 








Norris Simpson

Serving life for the fatal stabbing of social worker Ida James in 2011.

“I am going through a re-educating phase; both mental and physical. I have taken a number of courses since I have been here from business classes to social studies and English. 

“I hope that I will soon be able to take some computer classes too.”