‘Justice at last for Jahan’
The paternal grandmother of Jahan King, the six-year-old who died in mysterious circumstances last year, has described the arrest of the boy’s mother and her boyfriend as the first step towards justice for Jahan.
Jahan died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on June 29 after arriving there with his mother, Lasonta Gill, around 12:15 a.m. The official death certificate revealed that the child died of blunt chest and abdominal trauma.
Gill and her boyfriend Dwayne Alistair Marshall were remanded to HMP Dodds today after appearing in the District “A” Magistrates Court this morning. The couple has been jointly charged with manslaughter and are due to reappear in court on May 23.
Shortly after returning to her Deacons, St Michael home from the court this afternoon, Ena Browne, the adopted mother of Jahan’s father John King, told Barbados TODAY that an arrest was long overdue.
“It start. Justice has been done as far as I am concerned and I leaving it to the court to do the rest. Everything is there, the evidence is there, the Coroner’s report is there, the death certificate is there to prove that it ain’t no make up nothing and I leaving it to the court. I know they are going to deal with it fair,” she said.
Browne, who along with Lasonta’s mother Margaret Gill had made numerous pleas to the authorities not to let the child’s death go in vain, said she was happy to see the beginning of justice.
She said she was pleased when she received a call last Saturday evening from police advising that they had arrested the couple.
“I was very glad to hear that. I can’t explain how I felt. It was mixed emotions,” she recalled.
Prior to Jahan’s death, Browne had reported to the Child Care Board (CCB) that the boy was being abused, presumably by his mother and Marshall. Both were questioned by the state-run child protection agency, and, following Jahan’s death, the police had questioned and released them without charge.
Lasonta’s mother had also made several reports to the CCB about suspected physical abuse of the infant, and following his death she placed the blame squarely at the feet of the child protection agency.
“From the time the child’s 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 [to his mother], which means you don’t care,” an outraged Gill told Barbados TODAY in an interview in early July last year.
The boy’s father was incarcerated in Canada at the time of his death. He did not go to the court today and Browne believed this was because he would have found it difficult to cope.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY last Christmas, King said the entire episode seemed like a bad dream from which he was hoping to wake up.
But confronted with the reality that their boy was gone forever, he said at the time that he would settle for the next best thing: justice for Jahan.
“I want the truth. I want justice for my son,” King said then.
Today, King’s adopted mother who attended the court proceedings along with Margaret Gill, said it was tough simply watching the process unfold.
“Lasonta looked sad, but when the attorney was talking, he [Marshall] was laughing,” she reported.
As the first anniversary of Jahan’s death approaches, Browne said every day proved to be difficult as she struggled to cope and that she could not relax until there was a verdict in the case.
“A day don’t pass and water don’t come from my eyes when I think about him. This morning when I was at the court water came to my eyes. This was a young
six-year-old child who ain’t had no sickness or anything,” the adopted grandmother said.
About a week following Jahan’s death, Lasonta broke her silence on her son’s untimely passing, telling Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview at the time that the boy was not a victim of abuse and that he had suffered an asthma attack before his death.
She also said at the time that she loved her son with all her heart and would never have abused him or allowed anybody else to.