Investigations into the mysterious death of six-year-old Jahan King have hit a snag at the final hurdle.
Police say the probe is on the verge of completion, but they are unable to wrap it up because they cannot reach the last person who they want to question in connection with Jahan’s passing seven months ago.
“We are 99 per cent complete, but we still have to find a last person for questioning. When we find that person then we can finish [the investigation],” Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Livingstone Eversley told Barbados TODAY.
The boy died of blunt chest and abdominal trauma in the early hours of Monday, June 29 2015 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after being taken there by ambulance, accompanied by his mother Lasonta Gill. Police later questioned and released Gill and her boyfriend Dwayne Marshall in connection with his death.
However, Jahan’s grandmother Margaret Gill has laid blame at the feet of the Child Care Board (CCB), saying she had complained several times to the child protection agency that the boy was being abused. She listed broken fingers, an injury to the eye, a burst lip and bruises about the body as evidence of the abuse.
Following a public outcry, CCB Chairman Ken Knight issued a statement admitting that the state institution had received reports of injuries to the child and promising a full review of its handling of the case.
Just yesterday, Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett announced that the Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) (Amendment) Act, 2016 would make it a criminal offence if someone who “attends to, examines or otherwise interacts” with children neglects to report cases of child abuse.
“A person who attends to, examines or otherwise interacts with a child and is aware or has reasonable cause to suspect that the child is a victim of domestic violence, shall immediately notify the Child Care Board or a member of the Police Force of that suspicion,” Section 19A (I) of the amended law reads.
Blackett explained that anyone who is aware or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of domestic violence and fails to notify the Child Care Board or a member of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) would be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of $5,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months, or both. In addition, anyone who knowingly and maliciously makes a false, inaccurate or misleading statement to the Child Care Board or the RBPF, alleging that a child is a victim of domestic violence will face the same penalty if found guilty.