2009-11-12 / News

Swain sentenced to 25 years for murdering his wife

TORTOLA, BVI – A British Virgin Islands judge on Tuesday sentenced Jamestowner David Swain to 25 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of murdering his wife, Shelley Arden Tyre, in 1999.

Swain, a former two-term member of the Jamestown Town Council and owner of the now-defunct Ocean State Scuba on North Main Road, is planning to appeal the murder conviction, according to family members.

On Tuesday, the BVI judge gave Swain, 53, credit for the two years that he has already spent in a Tortola jail while awaiting trial. Swain will be 76 years old when he is eligible for parole.

A BVI jury returned a guilty verdict on the murder charge on Oct. 27 following a lengthy trial in which prosecutors said Swain had committed a nearly perfect crime motivated by lust and greed.

Tyre drowned while on a scuba diving vacation with Swain 10 years ago. BVI authorities had initially ruled Tyre’s death an accident, but re-opened the case after Swain lost a wrongful death lawsuit in 2002 that was filed by his late wife’s parents, Richard and Lisa Tyre.

Swain faced a mandatory life sentence for the BVI murder conviction. In preparation for the sentencing, Swain’s lawyers had asked for an early parole after 18 years in prison. The judge said that in her view, the murder was carefully planned, premeditated and called for stiff punishment.

In an e-mail to the Jamestown Press, Swain’s daughter, Jen Swain Bloom, shared the 45 letters that had been submitted to the court before the sentencing on Swain’s behalf.

“Much of our evidence was blocked or skewed due to technicalities, cultural differences, and the bottomless resources of the case for prosecution funded and powered by the fear of the BVI government, afraid of the mess they made of the initial investigation ever coming to light,” she wrote.

“In the past week, we were able to secure more than 45 letters asking the judge to consider the depth and integrity of my father’s character while looking at the issue of parole. Parole would be a short term, minor victory – no one that has spent any time with or actually knows my father thinks he should spend one more second behind bars,” Swain’s daughter wrote.

“We have already started the process for appeal,” she wrote.

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