Sun | Jun 16, 2024

Mother of St James flood victim to sue State

Published:Friday | March 31, 2023 | 1:24 AMMark Titus/Gleaner Writer
Twelve-year-old Jennel Walters, who perished in a flood in Montego Bay, St James, last April.
Twelve-year-old Jennel Walters, who perished in a flood in Montego Bay, St James, last April.

WESTERN BUREAU: CHRISTINE GILBERT, the mother of 12-year-old Jennel Walters, who perished in a flood after a bout of heavy rains in Montego Bay last year, is poised to take civil action against the state, saying that incomplete roadwork was...

WESTERN BUREAU:

CHRISTINE GILBERT, the mother of 12-year-old Jennel Walters, who perished in a flood after a bout of heavy rains in Montego Bay last year, is poised to take civil action against the state, saying that incomplete roadwork was responsible for the deluge.

“They (state entity) were working on the road, and maybe that contributed to so much water coming down on the road,” said Gilbert, who is still grieving the loss of the second of her three children.

Gilbert is not keen on facing the ordeal that many Jamaicans, including the mother of the late Mario Deane, have encountered in bringing cases against the State. Deane died in 2014 from injuries suffered while in police custody. His mother, Mercia Frazer, filed a suit against the State in 2015. The matter is still ongoing.

“When you look over the years at the many things that have happened, the outcome is not usually favourable when suing the State,” Gilbert observed.

“As I recall the Mario Deane case, where his mother has gone through hell and back, and still, no one has taken responsibility for what happened to her son. When you weigh those things, the outcome does not have any light at the end of the tunnel,” she added.

Despite believing that she has a strong case, Gilbert is also worried that because of her limited financial situation, she might not be able to afford a strong legal team to handle the case.

Prior to the fateful afternoon when Jennel and her 68-year-old grandmother, Beryl Walters, whose body was never found, were washed away, that area of Montego Bay was not known to be flood-prone.

In the heavy afternoon showers last April, a section of Westgate and the Fairview commercial district in Montego Bay was flooded.

The car in which Gilbert’s daughter and her grandmother were travelling with other family members was swept away before overturning in a ditch. The two were washed away while the other occupants were rescued.

In the Deane case referenced by Gilbert, the then 31-year-old construction worker was taken into custody at the Barnett Street Police Station in Montego Bay after he was arrested for a ganja spliff. While in custody, he was badly beaten by unknown persons, and three days later, he died while undergoing treatment for his injuries at the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

Three mentally challenged persons, who shared a cell with Mario Deane, and three police officers assigned to the Barnett Street Police Station, were arrested and charged in connection with his death.

However, while the three cellmates were deemed unfit to plea, the case against the police officers has been dragging on before the courts at a snail’s pace.

The case against the police officers is scheduled to continue in September.

Deane’s mother has also taken her case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in her quest for justice.

mark.titus@gleanerjm.com