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St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Parents of injured children still waiting to hear from Barrouallie Town Board

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by Jada Chambers

Parents of the children who were injured by a piece metal on a playground located in Barrouallie say they have received no sympathy from the Barrouallie Town Board.

Eleven-year-old Simlet Pierre of Keartons Hill, and nine-year-old Dequari Fraser of Bottle and Glass are two of five victims who were reported to have fallen prey to the piece of metal that was protruding out of the ground at the playground.

Anita Pierre, grandmother of Simlet Pierre

The piece of metal was said to have been attached to a slide which was removed a while back.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, Simlet Pierre’s grandmother, Anita Pierre said that an official of the Barrouallie Town Board whom she named, was present at the playground on Friday, November 18 when her grandson got injured.

“She was there the same day the thing happened to the child, the same night.”

Pierre said that the official told her that she would inform her boss about the matter and would either get back to her the following Saturday or Sunday, but did not do so until Wednesday.

On Wednesday, November 30, Pierre said that the Town Board official said she would report the matter to her boss.

“She called and say her boss would come by me [the following] Wednesday but I tell she I had to go to town with him (grandson)…and carry him…to the hospital tomorrow; so she say she will talk to her boss and up to now, she never call me back to tell me nothing.”

Pierre said she hopes the playground will be renovated as schools carry children there to play. “Fix it, take out all those break up things that they have inside there so that children could have privilege to play.”

The grandmother said she blames the Town Board for the injuries her grandson sustained “because if I employ you to work with me, right… I supposed to come around and see what you doing…and you’re supposed to complain to me and tell me well such and such in the park isn’t right…so all the time that thing there was ripping up people in the park, they never ever do nothing to it, so now that happened to him… as it’s in news, that’s why they go and dig it out,” Pierre added.

She also spoke of her frustration that there is no light in the park “in case of anything and [they] know them have that kind of steel with thing breaking out to damage people. “

Simlett told SEARCHLIGHT that he does not go often to the playground and was only in the area because of a crusade that was being held on the square.

“I knew about the steel, but then I was trying to avoid it but how the place was dark, I didn’t see the steel and then it hooked me,”he explained.

The piece of steel has since been removed but residents are uncertain who removed it.

Pierre, recounting the moment she heard of her grandson’s injury said “I was vex because I tell you when I watch it, It was really amazing to see such a big injury he had there. I know he’s upset because he loves school.”

However, it was reported that the principal and a teacher of the Central Leeward Secondary School which Simlet Pierre attends, visited the boy and assured him that he will get his school work.

Just five days before Simlet’s injury, Dequari Fraser hurt his knee on the piece of metal while playing on the playground.

His mother, Janice Griffith told SEARCHLIGHT that she did not make any complaints to the Town Board nor was she really expecting anything from them but still noted that no apology or sympathy was even shown on behalf of them.

“Well, my reaction, the same day I was telling the boy to don’t go anywhere. I always tell him to stay home and help out in the shop, I would tell him to stay home but he would say home [is] boring…so at first… I was saying, it’s how you’re hardened and you don’t hear because me nah send yo ah park; me nah send yo out dey but it’s my child, me put him in the vehicle and I go around at nurse and then the nurse carry him over clinic and stitch it up because he took eight stitches, so he got stitches and I bring him back home, the night he was bawling for foot and pain,” the mother recounted.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, Dequari recalled the moment he got injured stating that it was quite painful.

He explained that he and a friend were playing around.

“Mommy told me not to go to the park and…I go, and after a boy pinched me…and after I run, and after I fall down,”he said.

Dequari’s mother said although her son is able to walk, he has not fully recovered and still cries for pain from time to time SEARCHLIGHT contacted the Town Board official named by Anita Pierre concerning the incidents but she refused to make any comments.





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Pharmaceutical Association elects new executive

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The St Vincent and the Grenadines Pharmaceutical Association (SVGPA Inc), has elected a new executive to handle its affairs for the next two years.

The executive, which was elected on January 31, comprises pharmacists from both the private and public sector. The new executive committee is headed by Colicia Mingo as president and also comprises: Stephern Lewis, vice-president; Kemesha Nanton, secretary; Onika Gittens, treasurer; Lisa Licorish, assistant secretary/treasurer; and committee members in Tricia De Shong and Judith Sayers.





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Serious Offences Court now a ‘gun court’ – Chief Magistrate Browne

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by Kemarlie Durrant

Just one month into the year 2023, and the Serious Offences Court has seen over 10 new gun related charges for the month of January after the country experienced its highest crime rate last year.

Chief magistrate, Rechanne Browne presides over the Serious Offences Court and she is of the opinion that her court has become a ‘gun court’ this new year.

“For the year I think there has been a gun related offence in this court every day. I think I am operating a gun court for the year…”, the chief magistrate said when she sentenced 18-year-old Joel Williams.

Williams was charged for having in his possession one Glock .27 semi-automatic pistol, and five rounds of ammunition.

She also highlighted the issue when, one day after Williams received a non-custodial sentence, another 18-year-old, Jermaine Andrews, appeared in the court on firearms offence.

During his submissions for Andrews, prosecutor station sergeant, Renrick Cato said, “I’m asking the court that the sentence that is imposed- a strong message must be sent to persons who are in possession of an illegal firearm or who have intention of obtaining an illegal firearm.”

He added, “today is January 25, and I am sure that more than 10 new firearm matters came to this court and the month is not finished yet”.

During every sentencing the magistrate highlights the prevalence of firearm offences in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as aggravating factors of the offences. On one occasion she described the prevalence of firearm offences as “too rampant.”

The year 2022 was a record breaking year in SVG for the number of homicides, 42.

The year with the previous highest was 2016 when 40 homicides were recorded.

The majority of those murders were as a result of the use of a gun.

Prosecutor, corporal Shamrack Pierre on January 6 told the court, “ 2022 was one of the bloodiest years in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the majority of those homicides were using firearms. We don’t manufacture firearms in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“ The question is, where are they coming from?” the prosecutor asked during his submissions regarding the sentencing of Jomodean Alexander and Kevin Lewis who were both sentenced to three years on firearm and ammunition.

Before the chief magistrate sentenced Alexander and Lewis she said, “We have choices, and in the end, it is the choices that we make that affect us. I sit here often and I’m saddened because for the year, I’ve seen no female making any such choices…they are not coming here, but the young, strong men are often here based on their choices.”

Browne has given officers praise for their vigilance when these offenders are taken before the court.

The maximum penalty for possession of an unlicensed firearm in SVG is a fine of $20,000, or seven-years imprisonment.

Lawyer, Grant Connell who has represented a number of the defendants on gun charges is of the view that jail is not always the best answer.

“We need to fix St. Vincent, and fixing St. Vincent does not start by filling our jails,” Connell said during his plea mitigation for Jermaine Andrews last Wednesday.

The lawyer had also asked the court on January 6, to impose a fine on his client, Jomodean Alexander. He said that filling the prisons would not stop firearms from entering the country.

During that sentencing Connell had joined the magistrate in commending Sergeant 403 Nigel John, and his squad of Rapid Response Unit (RRU) officers, who made the arrest of Alexander and Kevin Lewis during a stop and search.

“So, when the Prime Minister says put more boots on the ground, you can’t put no comedy boots. Put more boots like them,” Connell said.

“It is not quantity. It’s quality. No sense mek ah phone call and send Tom Jones for training and the police training a whole set ah dem, and half ah dem incompetent,” the lawyer added.

Joel Williams was the only defendant to escape a prison sentence on his gun charges after the magistrate said she was leaning to comments made by Chief of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS),Justice Janice Pereira at the opening of the new law year that “A regime of punishment is not always the answer, but the restoration of young lives.”

Williams was fined and given specific orders by the court to enrol in a plumbing course and attend youth meetings weekly at the New Birth Christian Soldiers. He will be re assessed by the court after nine months. The chief magistrate also made it known that each case will not be treated in the same manner, but rather, each has to be assessed on its own merit.





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Police constable charged with dangerous driving

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A police officer who is a driver attached to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has found himself with a suspended license and a traffic case before the courts.

Police constable, Joyron Hull of Green Hill is no longer able to drive, and if he is found guilty of the traffic offence of which he ais charged, he may also find himself out of pocket, or worse.

Hull’s misery stems from footage of a blue minivan on the North Union public road which is seen taking a corner at what appears to be a high speed and ending up on two wheels as persons run into the road to record, using mobile devices.

On Tuesday, January 31, 2023, constable Hull was issued with a letter signed by the Commissioner of Police (COP), Colin John notifying him that his driving permit has been suspended by virtue of the authority vested in the Commissioner of Police, and the Licensing Authority in accordance with the Motor Vehicles
0and Road Traffic Act, Chapter 483, Section 51 (1) of the Revised Edition of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) 2009.

After Hull received the letter, he was charged with driving motor vehicle HR-981 in a dangerous manner on January 26, 2023 at the North Union Public Road.

There are also several other recordings of minivans travelling at what appears to be high speeds that police say they are investigating.

On Monday, January 30,a caller to Hot 97.1 FM’s AM Mayhem morning show took blame for the driving seen in the video recording.

He said he normally takes that corner “hard”, and on the day in question when he realized he was on two wheels, he quickly “corrected” and as a result averted a crash.

“I couldn’t just let it go over the bank,” the male voice said.

But after the comments, the hosts of the radio show commented that they did not believe the caller was the driver of the minibus in the recording.





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