FIERY DEATH: The faces of Hema Bassant, who committed suicide yesterday by setting herself ablaze, and her husband Sean Collymore are depicted on this teacup.



Abused woman sets herself ablaze

By Rickie Ramdass

YEARS of abuse at the hands of a relative is believed to be the reason a Diego Martin woman ended her life yesterday morning after she doused herself with kerosene and then lit herself ablaze.
After setting herself on fire on a hill in the yard of her Richplain Road home around 3 a.m., Hema Bassant, 33, fell several metres on to a staircase below, where she eventually burnt to death, police reported.
The woman’s husband, Sean Collymore, 43, who was at home at the time, tried unsuccessfully to save his wife’s life by breaking a water line in the yard and spraying her down in an attempt to put out the blaze.
The water, however, did not assist his cause, as it made the fire grow even more, investigators said.
Collymore, they said, suffered burns to both his arms and was taken to Port of Spain General Hospital, where he was treated and later discharged.
When the Express visited the scene of the incident yesterday, officials from the Diego Martin Regional Corporation, where Collymore was employed, were seen removing appliances and electronic items from inside the house to another location.
The woman’s mother-in-law, Jessica Collymore, said only on Saturday she spoke with Bassant and asked her to accompany her to church yesterday.
“But she told me she wasn’t ready yet and I asked her, ‘How you not ready yet?’ She said, ‘I just not ready,’” said Jessica.
She said the woman’s four children, who were at home at the time, witnessed their mother’s fiery death.
They are now staying with other relatives in the Diego Martin area, said Jessica.
She stated that on several occasions she had advised Bassant to report the alleged abuse to police, and this was done. Bassant and the relative had also sought counselling, but the abuse did not stop, she said.
She described her daughter-in-law as a cool person, who was always seeking her advice.
“Hema was cool, always want advice. She used to come to me for advice because I’m older than her, so she would come to me for advice. Since Christmas she was to come by me and stay, but I told her I don’t want them (the relative) coming down by me and getting on, because when you see there is abuse in the family and you go by other family, it gets worse... I won’t say that this is surprising, but I really did not expect it to get this far,” said Jessica.
An autopsy is expected to be conducted on Bassant’s body today at the Forensic Science Centre, Federation Park, St James.
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