Jakeem Bowman-Fenton was just two when he witnessed the aftermath of a murder his mother committed. He has been jailed again, for pointing a gun at police to help his girlfriend escape custody. Photo / Facebook
The son of teen murderer Danielle Bowman, who witnessed the aftermath of a frenzied fatal stabbing when he was just 2, has gone on to a life of crime – receiving another jail sentence today for pointing an airgun at police to aid his girlfriend’s escape.
Jakeem Bowman-Fenton, 25, pointed what appeared to be a pistol at four police officers in the middle of a dark Hamilton street during the early hours of December 8 last year.
His girlfriend was being arrested and Bowman-Fenton was using the airgun to scare police into releasing her.
Frozen with fear, the officers complied with Bowman-Fenton’s repeated demands at gunpoint to “let her go”, before the couple fled.
They were arrested the next day, in possession of the gun, identified as an airgun loaded with pellets.
Bowman-Fenton’s mother, Daniella Bowman, was 18 when she, with sisters Katrina and Natalie Fenton, then 19 and 15 respectively, killed Raymond Mullins in a frenzied attack in April 1999.
Natalie Fenton stabbed Mullins in the chest repeatedly with his own Ginzu steak knife until the blade bent and she had to fetch another, while Katrina Fenton held him down and repeatedly bashed him in the head with a hammer.
Bowman found the weapons and attacked him with a pot. Her son Jakeem, who was just 2 years old, was there and witnessed the aftermath of the murder.
Natalie Fenton said they attacked Mullins, who they knew, in his home after he advanced on the younger Fenton for sex but Bowman said the trio discussed killing Mullins earlier. The motive was money.
Bowman-Fenton appeared via audio-visual link for his sentencing in the Hamilton District Court today.
Lawyer Gerard Walsh said his client’s start to life “couldn’t have been more disastrous”.
“In terms of the murder that the mother conducted. Reports in the paper have her taking a 2-year-old to the murder.
“It’s hardly surprising that things have gone down the path that they had. It seems as though it was bad on every turn and in the fact that he’s found solace in the way that he has, seem to have been quite likely.”
The details of his upbringing were laid bare in a Section 27 cultural report, which Walsh used to push for a discount in penalty.
Bowman-Fenton, a member of the Killer Beez gang, was prepared to attend a restorative justice conference but the officers didn’t want to take part.
Crown prosecutor Jacinda Hamilton “absolutely acknowledged” his difficult start in life.
However, noting how cynical it could sound, she was dubious about Bowman-Fenton receiving a discount for his prospective rehabilitation.
“I simply make the observation that he is a person who has received a number of sentences of imprisonment. He’s a person who has been offered rehabilitative treatment on repeated occasions,” Hamilton said.
“He’s a person that at the time of this offending was on release conditions and under the strict oversight of the Department of Corrections and he was on bail.
“There is a difference between recognising the reasons why you choose to act in a particular way and being genuinely motivated to address your choices.”
Bowman-Fenton has had systemic assistance to get help, given bail “against a very serious criminal history”, she said and this incident was an escalation of offending.
He also continued to carry out repeated acts of violence against not only police but also prison officers.
The four police officers had been left “traumatised” by what happened because they didn’t know the gun wasn’t a Glock.
With all of that context, Hamilton pushed for a minimum non-parole period of 50 per cent of the end sentence.
Walsh argued against that, saying the quicker Bowman-Fenton can see the Parole Board, ask for release and get rehabilitation, the “better for everybody”.
Bowman-Fenton had earlier accepted a sentence indication of three years’ prison, prior to consideration of his pre-sentence and cultural reports.
Judge Brett Crowley agreed with the Crown that it was too soon to offer discounts for any possible rehabilitation, but said Bowman-Fenton deserved discounts for his traumatic childhood.
“His start to life was difficult, to put it mildly.
“He doesn’t know his father and was effectively cared for by relatives throughout his life which led to a large number of difficulties.”
He described the Section 27 writer as offering an “emotional” report to the court, bold and italicising the word, help, at every mention.
“It seems to me that something else that needs to take place is Mr Bowman-Fenton needs to make a change and resolve that he’s going to accept the help that’s offered to him.”
The judge allowed a further discount of 15 per cent, coming to an end jail term of two years, six months and two weeks.
He declined to issue a minimum term of imprisonment, preferring to leave Bowman-Fenton’s release to the Parole Board.
‘I believe in him’
Bowman-Fenton’s stepmother, who he identifies as his “mum”, was in court and spoke to Judge Crowley, telling the judge she didn’t excuse what Bowman-Fenton had done but believed he could change.
‘His upbringing wasn’t really that good … being passed around to family members as well, and not having a stable home.
“His grandparents brought him up and loved him very dearly.
“All he’s ever wanted was to be a part of a family and to be loved and supported. Unfortunately, he never had that from his mother because she spent all that time inside.”
The woman said Bowman-Fenton eventually tried to reconnect with his birth mother but “she wasn’t connecting with him in a way that he wanted her to”.
“He just wanted her to be there for him.”
She believed that, underneath his gang patch, he could change with the right support.
“Under all of that, he’s very loving, caring, and helpful as well. He’s actually a soft-hearted person.
“I believe in him.”
Daniella Bowman’s rocky road to release
Before the murder, Bowman only had a shoplifting charge to her name.
She was initially released on parole in 2014, but breached her release conditions after about six months by using drugs and alcohol, and was recalled to prison.
It would be a further five years, after multiple failed attempts, before she would be released, seeing her serve about 20 years for her part in Mullins’ murder.
The Parole Board described that five years before her release as a “rollercoaster ride”, with her being “very close” to release on several occasions.
Her dishonesty about inappropriate relationships with women inmates would keep her behind bars.
As for her co-offenders, Natalie Fenton was released on parole in 2016 but reappeared on a breach of her release conditions in April this year, after returning home late.
She was jailed for six weeks.
Katrina Fenton has remained on parole since her release more than a decade ago.