Puerto Rico tragedy of Donna and Jimmy continues to grab headlines

Gran Canaria Spanish language daily, La Provincia, put a picture of Jimmy on the front page today

80 year old Jimmy Breaks has been headline news since the death of poor unfortunate Donna Cowley last week some hours after a supposed argument at his apartment.  Pictures emerged yesterday of a powerless and terrified old man pleading to reporters for help as he was forcibly led away from his home of many years in cuffs, after having taken investigators through his version of the events last week that led to his friend’s untimely death.

Sources intimate with the case have pointed out that no autopsy report has yet been received.  It is expected in coming days.  Until those conclusions are published nobody can really say whether Jimmy was instrumental in her death, and no one really knows what happened that fateful night when Donna made the call to report that she had been assaulted.

Locals have pointed to the fact that Donna had been down on her luck for a while, and had nowhere else to go.  Neighbours have been reported as saying the two had been heard arguing loudly in the past. Friends of Jimmy say that he had wanted Donna to leave due to her excessive drinking, but he didn’t want her to be out on the street. At least one resident told reporters that Donna had been seen with a black eye last year.  But of course no-one really knows how she got that, what the relationship was, and no one has categorically come forward to suggest any type of physically abusive relationship between Jimmy and Donna. It’s all speculation.

La Provincia headline: Jimmy returns to the place of the crime: “Are you going to help me?” Image: Solarpix

Currently the only person who really knows what was going on, what had led to previous arguments, and what happened that night is 80 year old Jimmy Breaks.  No one else was there, nor took an interest.  But of course, everyone now has some sort of opinion to offer.

Those close to him say that he had become quieter in recent months, going out less.  He was known locally for his gentlemanly behaviour. There has even been suggestion that he was showing signs of possible dementia.  Jimmy has claimed that Donna was not in a romantic relationship with him, but that he had allowed her to stay at his place to help look after him.  Many suspect he was just doing her a good turn. Enjoyed the company.

Donna herself is known to have been a “troubled soul”, though well liked it seems the only person who had taken any interest in making sure she had somewhere to be, had been Jimmy.

At some point she had “disappeared to Las Palmas for a number of years” and she’d been known as a heavy drinker, and possibly to have had underlying health issues such as asthma; whether these were connected to her having had that heart attack in the early hours of Friday morning is for the coroner to say.  We may never know.  What is clear is that whatever her situation, nobody, but nobody, wished her any real harm.

UK red top The Mirror

“This tragedy extends far beyond Donna’s awful untimely death. It speaks of isolation, even within a fairly close-knit foreign community, it speaks of old age, of loneliness and fear of the unknown. This is a story of two people getting by, and getting on with life, despite its hardships.

This was not likely a story of terror or bullying or contempt or abuse, but more likely feelings of inadequacy, mutual acceptance, of incompatibility, frustration and rowdy drinking and possibly of occasional, bleary argy bargy.” – Ed

Nevertheless it has become clear that the UK tabloid press, and even the local Spanish language press, have decided that they know what happened, continuing to sensationalise and draw conclusions based on their scant understanding of the real underlying relationship.  Although Jimmy currently only stands accused of one alleged crime, resisting arrest, which he has pleaded not guilty to, it seems clear that the conclusion has already been drawn, by the newspapers at least, that Jimmy will be charged with further criminality.  

It is unfair, and it is desperately sad.  Donna died too early and from a heart attack, this much we all agree.  Did they have loud disagreements, probably.  Was she in any fear of Jimmy, almost certainly no.  The only person who seemed to actively care for her at all in life, and the only person who really knows what happened, is possibly to be accused of causing her death.  An old man, well known and well liked, faces the prospect of living out his remaining years, filled with regret, in prison for a crime he may never really know if he was responsible for or contributed to or not.

No justice can be served here.  Mistakes and tragedy.

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