Support is growing for a call on Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Donna Babb-Agard to drop charges against Felisha Osula Holder, the 33-year-old mother accused of causing the death of her 11-year-old son by dangerous driving three years ago.
The local charity, the African Heritage Foundation (AHF), has launched an online petition in an attempt to secure 5,000 signatures of Barbadians who want Babb-Agard to discontinue the case against Holder of Hopefield, Christ Church.
In its rationale for the petition, the AHF described the accident which took the life of Abijah Holder-Phillips as “terrible and involuntarily”, and said the charge against Holder was “unjust, inhumane and the case should be discontinued”.
It was on June 26, 2015 while on their way home from Abijah’s school graduation, that the vehicle which the mother was driving hit a structure at the entrance to the Villages at Coverley along the Adams section of the ABC Highway and ended up on its side.
The young student, who was looking forward to attending Queen’s College, died on the spot, while Abijah’s 13-year-old sister Ibrel, who was also in the vehicle, suffered a broken left leg.
The structure at Coverley has long been a bone of contention between Mark Maloney, the Villages developer, and Town & Country Planning, which argued that it was dangerous.
The AHF noted that “the structure Felisha struck was ordered to be removed years ago” and appealed to Barbadians to “help bring an end to these proceeding with your signature”.
Up until early this afternoon, 376 people had signed the petition, which the AHF said it plans to deliver to the DPP on May 25.
The charity’s call followed a similar appeal by social activist David Comissiong this week in which he described the decision to charge Holder as “heartless”.
Comissiong referred to a media report which quoted two senior Government planning officials as advising as far back as 2012 that the structure posed a challenge.
“It would appear that Ms Holder and her precious eleven-year-old child– Abijah — were victims of a deficient and dangerous stretch of roadway. Furthermore, how heartless is it for a supposed ‘justice’ system . . . to bring such a charge against a mother some three years after the tragic and traumatic incident,” Comissiong stated in a press release.
“Ms Holder would have spent the last three years trying to process and come to terms with the profound feelings of grief generated by the tragic death of her child. And now here comes ‘the system’ — three years later — opening up all the old wounds again,” he stressed, while pleading with Babb-Agard to “utilize the power granted to her under Section 79 (2) (c) of the Constitution of Barbados to immediately discontinue the criminal charge” brought against the mother.
“And in the name of justice, decency, and humanity I call upon Ms Babb to do precisely that. Discontinue these heartless criminal proceedings against this young mother of our nation.”
The decision to charge Holder, who is out on $7,500 bail, provoked the ire of Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader Mia Mottley, who told a recent party meeting at Briar Hall, Christ Church it was unfair that the mother was the only one facing criminal charges.
Mottley was adamant that Maloney should also have been charged.
“How she can face the law courts alone and the person who built that obstruction on the highway does not have to face a single [charge] in this country?”
“How do you think that ordinary Bajans feel tonight to know that . . . a mother having lost her son on the day in which he left primary school to go to Queen’s College? . . . How this woman can even face tomorrow morning?”
The BLP leader also announced that night that five BLP lawyers, all of whom are candidates for the 2018 general election, would defend Holder in her ongoing legal battle.
“She shall not be going into that law court alone . . . . This Barbados Labour Party will help represent this young mother because I believe it is a travesty of social justice,” Mottley declared, while naming Kerrie Symmonds, Wilfred Abrahams, Gregory Nicholls, Ralph Thorne, QC, and Dale Marshall, QC, as the woman’s legal representatives.