Saturday, February 17, 2018

3-month-old baby girl found dead


DEATH HOUSE: The house at Sea Lots, Port of Spain, where baby Akiela Gill was found dead. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

Mark Fraser

A Sea Lots family has been plunged into mourning after the lifeless body of a three-month-old baby girl was discovered at the home of a close male relative yesterday morning.

Police reported that at about 4 a.m. the E999 command centre received a report from a 27-year-old woman explaining that her youngest child, three-month-old Akiela Gill, was dead. A party of officers from the Guard and Emergency Branch including PC Dale Makoonsingh, PC Sean Warwick, PC Davidson and PC Lange, who at the time were on mobile patrol in the vicinity, responded and made their way to LP 33, Beetham Highway, Sea Lots, where the incident reportedly took place. 

The officers found the 27-year-old mother of four standing outside her residence, a small one-bedroom dwelling, crying, “Meh child dead! Meh child dead!” They disembarked from their vehicles and followed the woman inside and soon discovered baby Akiela’s body lying on her back on a bed in a bedroom of the home. 

Following protocol, the officers contacted the Emergency Health Services (EHS), as well as senior officials in the Port of Spain Division and the Homicide Bureau of Investigation, and a party of officers including Inspector Singh, Sgt Harry and PC Huggins visited the scene. Officials from the Armstrong’s funeral home arrived shortly thereafter.

Police sources noted that some time later, the EHS responders arrived and checked for signs of life on the child. Upon failing to find any, they contacted the District Medical Officer who eventually ordered that the child’s body be put in cold storage until an autopsy could be performed at the Forensic Science Centre in St James on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old woman reportedly told police that she had left her Sea Lots home at about 11 p.m. on Thursday after a disagreement with the male relative. She said that she needed to “clear her head” after the incident, and left her three-month child in the care of her 11-year-old son at her father’s home. When she returned at about 4 a.m. she could not find her daughter, and upon waking up her son, she was told that the male relative had visited the home during the night and taken the child. 

The mother of four made her way to the nearby residence of the male relative, and when she opened the door to the home, she observed her daughter completely covered by the man’s shoulder. She woke him up, and they both observed that the toddler had been frothing at the mouth and as a result, they both called the E999 services. 

The male relative, police said, remained at the home in a state of shock, and made no attempt to flee the scene. The officers eventually took the mother, as well as the male relative, to the offices of the Homicide Bureau at Riverside Plaza, and  Sackville Street, Port of Spain.

Police sources said it was expected that the two will be detained overnight, assisting with inquiries. A file on the incident is already being compiled and when completed, it is expected to be sent to Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard to determine what charges, if any, should be laid in this matter. 

Police sources also said that, up to press time, two of the 27-year-old woman’s four children, the 11-year-old boy and her three-year-old son, had been removed from the home in a bid to keep them safe. They said that her second oldest child, a seven-year-old boy, was at another relative’s at the time, and up to late yesterday, he had not been brought into the care of the State. 

When Express visited the scene yesterday afternoon, baby Akiela’s aunt Nikeisha Manswell, said that she was told that the 36-year-old male relative had taken the child from her mother’s home without permission. She said that the 36-year-old man and Akiela’s mother were having “frequent arguments”  which led to baby Akiela’s mother leaving her home on Thursday night. 

She said the family was taking the death with a heavy heart because baby Akiela was expected to be christened on May 4, and instead of a celebration of life, the family was forced to plan a funeral.

Manswell also wanted to stress that baby Akiela’s mother did not often leave her children at home unsupervised, but that night she had to get away from the “stress” that she was under.

“She loved her children. It was just that she was afraid of that man. She left the children home because she could not take it, and that is the only reason,” Manswell said. 

Besson Street police are continuing investigations.

Akiela’s death follows those of ten-month old Omari “Buba” Mayers and his sister three-year-old Keanna “Keke” Mayers, who were killed along Mora Trace, Matura, on Saturday night by their father, 33-year-old Barry Karamath.  Karamath, after killing his children, then killed himself. 

An autopsy on the bodies of the two toddlers confirmed that the children died as a result of asphyxia, however, blood and tissue samples have been sent for a toxicology screening to determine what exactly caused the asphyxia —whether the children were poisoned or smothered. 

Investigations into that incident are also continuing.