Crying shame

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.

Margaret Gill is full of anger, frustration and pain.
Margaret Gill is full of anger, frustration and pain.

“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.

One of the photographs circulating on social media showing Johann’s bruises.
One of the photographs circulating on social media showing Johann’s bruises.

“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.

Johann King and his mother Lasonta Gill in happier times.
Johann King and his mother Lasonta Gill in happier times.

“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.

20 Responses to Crying shame

  1. lester July 2, 2015 at 6:02 am

    This is troubling, this is heartbreaking, when she took the child to the QEH the doctors should secretly call immediately the police, something has to be done and if what the grandmother say is true the social worker should be charge, the mother charge, charge the head of the Child Care Board charge the step father. Charge all of them

    • Mac10 July 2, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      No “secretly” about it. It should be mandatory, if a child is brought in suffering from clear signs of abuse, the police & CCB should be called immediately.

  2. Bostonian July 2, 2015 at 6:23 am

    That’s a damn shame I hope that social worker sleep well at night known how he or she failed that innocent kid from the evil hands of his parent, I hope sombody will be looking for a job after an investigation in this matter, grandma your pain is being felt I realize you did everything that you was supposed to do with no help or support from the authority they fail that kid and you

  3. BajanWoman July 2, 2015 at 6:37 am

    this is the second death of a child and the mother is involved… Not hearing NOW beating down the doors of justice….

    The Child Care board should be blamed… all too often we assume that as long as a child is with the mother all’s well.. This is a case of murder… MURDER…
    The grandmother clearly was concerned but she is right ..s he cannot take the child from his mother otherwise it would be bacchanal.
    This time a stepfather is involved… perhaps we would get some women’s organisation opening their mouths because we all know that mothers’ all do right (Sarcasm)

  4. Ann Greaves July 2, 2015 at 8:58 am

    The child care board if what this granny says is adding up means failed this child. They failed to act swiftly and carry out thorough investigations. What more they needed after not only the granny reported the matter, but also his school. Come on now. Are you only working to get a salary and not being effective and efficient in your duties. Thorough investigations need to be done to determine why the authorities at the Child Care Board did not see the need for removal of this child. Somebody must pay. The animals who abused him and those in authority who turned a blind eye.

  5. Patrick Blackman July 2, 2015 at 10:05 am

    This is very sad , another young life gone. Most here seem to be blaming the child care board but I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion. We don’t know what protocols are in place at the child care board and what legal requirements cover the level of action they can take.

    Secondly, the doctor who treated this child, what are the legal requirements for he/she to report this matter to the police or child care board, these are all things that need to be addressed first. At the end of the day blame rest with the individual(s) who actually commited the abuse. Some of you may think my assertions are silly but until we understand the procedures at the QEH,Child Care board and the Police in regards to cases of abuse, then everything is just speculation.
    RIP Johann.

  6. ch July 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    I really don’t want to hear any foolishness about protocols and procedures. The Child care board has a duty to investigate ALL reported cases of child abuse and act in the best interests of the child.
    And every adult in Barbados has a duty to report suspected child abuse. Period.
    Two children are dead- one driven to suicide; another allegedly brutally beaten to death- and the responsible parties are still breathing free?
    We en want nuh talk- we want justice for these children!

    • tanshia July 2, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      you are so right, somethings has seriously gone wrong. two children die at the hands of their parents, or in the care f their parents? what’s happening with our parents, is the stress too much? then find help. there are people out here who can and will help where you need help, stop distroying the future of your country, this little boy could be a prime minister or doctor or someone very important to our country. our women need to choose better men, our self esteem seem to be down in the dump, uplift yourselves and let those animals call men who are walking the streets go until someone else wipe them out.

  7. Sue Donym July 2, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I hope that by now files have been seized from the Child Care Board. If they are missing or non-existent, even that has to be grounds for serious action.

    I’ve never met this lady, but I am convinced that there were matters that needed urgent attention.

    Isn’t the default position supposed to be to put the child’s best interest first? Clearly someone (other than the CCB officer) wasn’t doing that. There is plenty blame to go around and I would hate to have to count the RBPF among those who failed this child.

    Finally, I hope that anyone in even a remotely similar position understands that no child deserves this.

  8. Patrick Blackman July 2, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    @ch – How are you going to get real justice for this child if you don’t know where the system broke down and be able to put the appropriate controls in place to prevent such from happening again?

  9. Donna July 2, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    This is heartbreaking. This is inexcusable! Gran, you tried your best. Now keep this in the public eye. Do not let them forget! Do not let your grandson die in vain! Save others whom the system is failing. Let some heads roll! Shake up the place! This island is failing our children. A sweet little boy…..GONE!

  10. Don Morris July 2, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    MY God, when are we going to wake up? This should never have happened. After the first incident being reported, something positive should have been done to rescue this child. And it hurts like hell to think that a “mother” could tolerate such cruelty to her own child — at her own hands or at the hands of someone else. I don’t give a damn what the circumstances were — whether he was emptying his wallet in her hands or whether she perceived him to be the best bed partner she has ever had!This should not have happened!

    And in addition to hanging their heads in shame, the “officials” at the Child Care Board should be asked to step down and let other people who “care” about children do the job. While I agree there is some merit in Patrick Blackman’s comment, there comes a time when a worker must decide if he or she is going to hide behind red tape or step out in defense of someone who is in danger of losing his/her life as happened in this case. Seems to me in situations like these we only like to act after someone is lying in the morgue.

  11. Patrick Blackman July 2, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    @Don Morris – I am glad you have the capacity to move beyond the expected emotional response. Emotions are sometimes very hard to control and in most cases they cloud our judgement. I learned that lesson quite clearly from @Sue Donym in regards to the ZR issue some weeks ago.

    We have to focus now on where the break down in the process occured and try to correct it so that there is a faster response time to any future cases. If we as a people continue to focus on fixing individual trees we will surely destroy the forest.

  12. Mark Jones July 2, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I just don’t understand this. The Child Care Board has at least one senior lawyer (QC) to advise on cases . You mean to say that no one thought to have an urgent application filed to make this child a ward of the court pending an investigation. If this lady’s allegations are correct some person or persons at the Child Care Board ought to be fired for leaving this child in those circumstances.

  13. Patrick Blackman July 2, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    @Mark Jones :
    “The Child Care Board has at least one senior lawyer (QC) to advise on cases . You mean to say that no one thought to have an urgent application filed to make this child a ward of the court pending an investigation.”

    You are quite right on this issue. That is exactly what I was getting at when I commented about protocols & procedures.

  14. villager. July 2, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    This is a serious and sad case, sometimes i wonder if some of these young persons are really ready for the responsibilities of child rearing? I mean some of them are but mere children themselves and in some cases get involved in certain activities which clearly impedes on their abilities to think rationally,they some times and this is common also amongst some older make bad choices in partners and forsake family for these persons, only to realize that they have made serious and grave mistakes when it is way too late,anyway this is a matter under investigation and one should be very careful in one’s assumptions as there are several factors involved in any incident and several sides to a story,however i await the outcome. I am truly sorry for this little boy, i know that he is with the Lord.

  15. Maxine Hutchinson July 2, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Both the doctor(s) and the Officer at the C CB would have done a course of ethics in their studies that spoke to “duty to warn”.

    Even though they may have received comments from the mother and /or the “boy-enemy” who would have presented before them, there is that little thing that says “something is wrong”.

    While I posit these comments we have still to be careful. Sometimes the doctors/officers are operating in junior positions and may make recommendations that could be overturned in a flash and swept under the carpet.

    Sometimes the “powers” are so vindictive, careless and would try to disgrace a junior worker into understanding that they are chiefly in charge so take your small boy/girl place. The worker is then left to throw his/her hands up in frustration, bite his/her lips, have the file taken away from them in shame and then walk away to continue to present at work but do very little or nothing at all.

  16. Sandra basc July 2, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    My heart breaks for that child and what he must have gone through at that young age. This is a society of people who only care about themselves. Our social services are very very lacking
    We are supposed to be very educated people but with no sense of right or wrong nor humanity.

    The child care board definitely needs investigating and those in charge of that boys case should be charged along with the mother and the abuser.

    Where is the legislation on the protection of our children? The ministry of education also need to look into what is happening with our children education in the secondary schools. There needs to be performance appraisals for Teachers and the schools . If the ministry does not get a report of the number of children stopping down by forms, they need to start requesting me.


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