Grieving granny blames authorities for boy’s death
A grieving grandmother is laying the blame for the demise of her grandson squarely at the door of the Barbados Child Care Board.
Full of anger, frustration and pain, Margaret Gill told Barbados TODAY that as recently as last Friday, June 26, she was in a meeting with Child Care Board officials discussing the alleged abuse of six-year-old Johann King, who died in unnatural circumstances.
“All I saying, and I would say it a thousand times, I blame the Child Care Board. I would die saying that I blame the Child Care Board,” the grieving granny said.
“From the time the child eye was swollen, why didn’t they take the child or even if they give him to me, and put him somewhere where you know it would be safe. He come back again with more injuries and you send he back, which means you don’t care,” said an outraged Gill at her Peidmont Park, Grazettes, St Michael home.
The infant, who lived at Jackson, St Michael, died around 4 a.m. on Monday after being taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) by his mother Lasonta Katrina Gill.
Barbados TODAY understands that the child’s mother and her boyfriend were questioned by police at the District A station for several hours today in connection with his death.
Gill said since seeing the child’s body laying lifeless on a hospital bed, she had been feeling “terrible”, with memories of how she lost one of her sons tragically at age 17 replaying in her mind.
Gill said her grandson’s nightmare started when his mother moved out of the family house sometime in April, and, according to her, “from then to now, the dog dead”.
She said shortly after he was moved from her home, the first meeting was held with Child Care Board after the school reported that he turned up with a swollen eye and it appeared he was struck in it.
“He come to school in April with he fingers [broken] [and] the school call[ed] the Child Care Board.
However, while lamenting that nothing was done by the authorities to help her grandson, she said he had also “come to school with a bloodshot in the eye”, and again the Child Care Board was informed but to no avail.
“Something else happen, Child Care Board,” Gill said, lamenting the boy’s death.
The grandmother said she strongly believed after that first report, authorities should not have returned Johann to his 26-year-old mother’s care.
However, Gill claimed that since that incident she had been trying to encourage the child welfare authorities, and also her daughter, to give her custody of Johann.
“[There is] a lot of talk every time you go to Child Care Board and then she [the social worker] have the heart to tell me on Friday, which was my birthday, that everything she [Johann’s mother] is saying, is not adding up to how the child look.
“She send us out and talk to Johann by himself and send he back home,” she noted.
The boy’s grandmother added: “I wonder how she [the social worker] at home feeling. When you see a child finger [broken], he eye swell up and all over he cut up, what else more you want?”
Gill admitted that she was angered when she saw the state of Johann’s body in the hospital.
She said she was not aware his body looked the way it did, as before, she was only seeing from his neck up.
“I could tell you, the neck scratch up, the swollen mouth, the bloodshot eye, but when I gone the morning he dead and I pull off the sheet, tears come from my eye.
“The child skin like when you watch African pictures how you does beat people. And I saying, ‘he get very dark’, I say, ‘Lasonta what really happen to Johann?’ She say, ‘I don’t even know’. You could imagine?”
Disturbing pictures have been circulating on social media showing images of Johann’s body, bruised, battered and broken.
The grandmother told Barbados Today that the child’s biological father, John King, was currently in Canada, contending that had he been living in Barbados, Johann would have been well cared for.
“If he was here she wouldn’t have had him. Don’t care where John go, he had Johann. He use to had he on he neck walking,” she said.
She recalled a comment from one of Johann’s schoolmates at Lawrence T. Gay Memorial School, which sent chills through her body.
“You know what hurt me, a little girl that does come by me say, ‘aunty Margaret, I was hollering for Johann and the man tek he neck and do um so, and nearly break it off at the school and tell he come along’.
“And then, the next morning when I ask Johann, why he ain’t answer me and if the man does beat he? He tell me ‘I can’t talk or I would get in trouble’.
The grandmother said she was aware that there were rumours circulating about the circumstances surrounding the death of the boy who she described as “friendly and helpful”.
Raising her hand in the air, the woman indicated that she had even heard a few people blaming her for not intervening.
However, in her own defence, she argued that she did her best to get him out of the situation.
“Don’t blame me!” she said passionately.
“I know me, and people could shut them eye and tell you when it comes to children, I don’t make sport. He was living at me and the mother take he away when I wasn’t home.
“She wait until I went to work and move out. I can’t take away the woman child,” she stressed.
“How could I get somebody child that got it? Well, I can’t break the body hand for it. I got seven children and seven grands. I am capable of raising a grandson,” she added.
With grief evident in her eyes, the grandmother said while the matter was now in police hands, she was closely monitoring the developments.
When contacted by Barbados TODAY this evening, Director of the Child Care Board Joan Crawford promised to comment on the matter tomorrow.