Justice sought for victims of Bridgetown tragedy
by Donna Sealy and Neville Clarke
With the relevant three year statutory limitation period due to elapse on September 3, the anniversary of Shanna Griffith, Nikkita Belgrave, Pearl Cornelius, Tiffany Harding, Kellishaw Olivierre, and Kelly Ann Welch’s deaths, attorney-at-law David Comissiong announced the court action today.
The suits, which seek an unspecified amount of monetary damages, will be filed against Renaldo Anderson Alleyne, who was sentenced to six life sentences after pleading guilty last year, Jamar Dewayne Orlando Bynoe, who is in prison awaiting trial on six counts of murder, the owner of the clothing store, and the owner of the Tudor Street, Bridgetown building in which the victims met their deaths.
At a Press conference he called this morning in his capacity as Chairman of the September Third Foundation to announce plans to commemorate the third anniversary of the tragedy, Comissiong said:
“So the lawsuits will be filed, the statutory limitation period for filing lawsuits in the case of unlawful death is three years. So the statutory limitation period would expire on September 3, this year.
“Lawsuits will be filed before then, and the lawsuits will target not only the issue of the two young men who committed the criminal act of manslaughter, but also the fact that the building in which the Campus Trendz Store was being carried on did not have a fire escape and that the business itself in which these young women were employed was being carried on without a fire-escape in place.”
Tonight, he told Barbados TODAY that he was representing two of the families, while other lawyers representing more than one group of loved ones would also be filing individual suits in the coming days.
Comissiong explained that individual civil suits would be filed by individual families and that the claimants could be relatives including parents and siblings who have suffered loss of guidance, companionship, care, or who might have suffered emotional and psychological injury and loss.
He also noted that in some instances there might have been financial loss as a result of the deaths and in some instances there were funeral expenses, adding that the majority of the six families affected will be engaged in the suit in their own right under the law.
Comissiong also said while financial compensation was being sought this would be determined by the court.
News of the court action comes as families, friends, and Barbadians prepare to commemorate the 2010 tragedy which shocked the island.
The Chairman said this year’s events would begin on Sunday, September 1 when all of the churches of Barbados would be asked to dedicate their services on that day to the issue of violent crime in general and the issue of violence against women in particular.
“This is something that we are trying to institutionalise. Every year on the last Sunday before September 3, we are asking every Barbadian church to dedicate their services to this issue. The six families of the Campus Trendz victims will be going as a group to one the churches. We have made a request of one of the churches in Bridgetown and we are just waiting to confirm that church tomorrow,” he said.
He added that on the actual anniversary the September Third Foundation would urged everyone in Barbados to stop whatever they were doing and observe a minute’s silence at noon.
Families of the Campus Trendz victims, members of the September Third Foundation and others will assembly at National Heroes’ Square at that time and lead the minute of national silence.
Comissiong explained that during that minute of silence, they would not only be focussing on the six Campus Trendz victims, but also put a very special focus on those who died as a result of violent crime between September 3 2012, to September 3, 2013.
“For every year what we propose to do at the national minute of silence is in addition to focusing on the six Campus Trendz victims, to also focus on the victims of the past 12 month period. We will be doing a roll call of those victims,” he said.
“We will be calling out their names in national Heroes’ Square because the whole intention behind this is to ensure that these victims do not remain invisible. We want to ensure that we do not sweep this issue under the carpet in Barbados. We want to ensure that at least once a year we go into the public square and say to the public that these are the victims of violence.” email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org