Mother wept at six-year-old’s funeral
A large crowd of curious onlookers who gathered outside the St Leonard’s Anglican Church for the funeral of six-year-old Jahan King, whose death from chest trauma almost two months ago is the subject of a police investigation, witnessed a peaceful service and burial this afternoon.
Before the doors of the Westbury Road, St Michael church opened for the start of the scheduled 3:30 p.m. service, people had begun assembling, awaiting the arrival of the small white casket containing the remains of the little boy.
The casket was not opened to allow viewing of the body. Instead, mourners saw a framed picture of the bright eyed boy resting on top of the casket.
Many persons had asked whether they would be able to view the body before the start of the service while others wanted to know when Jahan’s mother Lasonta Gill, 26, who is one of the persons at the centre of the investigation, would show up.
A few persons also said they were there to see whether Gill’s boyfriend Dwayne Marshall, also under investigation, would attend.
Jahan’s father John King, for whom the funeral was delayed because he had been incarcerated in a Canadian jail since late last year and was expected to be released earlier this week, was not present to say goodbye to the boy he referred to as his “super handsome son.”
King’s foster mother Ena Browne, who made the funeral plans along with Gill, said she had not heard from him, but the funeral had to go on, and it did so smoothly.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Government backbencher James Paul and Government Senator, Pentecostal pastor Dr David Durant were among public figures in attendance. Jahan’s maternal grandmother Margaret Gill, who brought the case to light when she alleged that the boy was abused, did not attend the funeral.
Jahan’s schoolmates from the Lawrence T Gay Memorial School were also present.
A letter which King wrote from prison, addressed to his deceased son, was read during the service. He openly shared his feelings about the boy’s untimely death and expressed strong regret over the fact that he was not there for the boy.
“I’m so very sorry that I wasn’t there to save you. I blame myself because in the past, whenever you had an asthma attack, I was there for you to lean on and to whisper in your ear that ‘daddy’s here’. The one time I wasn’t there, you had to pass away,” King wrote in an emotional letter in which he remarked: “Life can be so unfair at times.
“You were truly unique, extraordinary, intelligent, humble, kind-hearted, inquisitive, super handsome, my only beloved son and one of God’s most favoured earth angels,” he added, while expressing profound hurt over the fact that he was unable to attend the funeral.
“I want you to know it isn’t by choice, it’s by force, but for sure I’ll be there in spirit and watching you go all the way to heaven,” the letter stated.
As the emotional letter was read, some members of the congregation were moved to tears. A few men held down their heads.
Well-known children’s hymns including “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” and “There Is A Green Hill Far Away”, were sung during the service.
Reverend Myra LaPlante, who delivered the sermon, called on mourners to focus on the impact the child would have had in his lifetime. She urged Jahan’s loved ones and friends to look to Jesus for love and comfort as they mourned.
“You heard that Jahan was inquisitive. We should be inquisitive in the word of God because this is what is going to give us our strength. ‘What Jesus really has to say when our young son is now taken from me, or our young grandson, let me see what God has to say to me, what he has to say to my sorrowful heart’. Young Jahan has reflected for us that you and I have to be inquisitive,” LaPlante said.
By the time the almost two hour long service was over and the procession was making its way to the graveside in the churchyard, the crowd outside had grown. Many had taken up vantage points and pulled out cellular phones to take pictures and record the proceedings.
The gravediggers were relieved of the job of covering the grave as King’s friends took turns carrying out that task before family members laid wreaths.
Gill, who appeared composed throughout the service, broke down for a short while after the burial as she stared at her son’s final resting place.
Gill and Marshall were also investigated by the Child Care Board. This was after it was reported that Jahan, who died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on June 29, after being taken there by his mother, was a victim of abuse.