Grief stricken: National footballer Marvin Phillip, centre, is restrained by relatives inside the Sacred Heart RC Church, Gasparillo, yesterday during the funeral service for his infant son, Matai, inset. —Photo: INNIS FRANCIS

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Matai ‘loved by everyone’

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

THE parents of baby Matai Phillip, who died last Friday after being dropped off at a day-care centre in Chaguanas, was so overcome with grief yesterday that both the child’s funeral service and interment were delayed.
National footballer Marvin Phillip and Lesley-Ann Halls wept uncontrollably before, during and after the funeral service, neither wanting to let go of the child’s body.
At one point, Phillip scuffled with mourners, resulting in Matai’s casket being returned to the church after the recession.
Halls kept screaming out: “Where is my baby? I want my baby!”
Both parents and other relatives held on to each other for the service that lasted just under an hour at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Gasparillo. Matai was later buri­ed at the church’s cemetery.
Little Matai died early Friday morning shortly after being dropped off at the Anointed Angels Day Care in Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas. In an attempt to pacify the child, who was crying at the time, police said he was placed in a car seat. An autopsy revealed the ten-month-old died from being suffocated by the car seat’s straps.
Matai, whose name means “a gift from God”, was described as a child loved by every­one, “a typical and adventurous boy child”, by Krystal Jack and Sharon Santana. “He had a smile that would charm the most vicious beast,” one said during the eulogy.
Matai never gave trouble except when it was time to eat, and was a “delight for everyone to take care of”, mourners were told.
Fr Alan Hall, who officiated the service, said while many may be angry, hurt and troubled by Matai’s death, they should not live their life “in the past and in regret”.
He said Matai, who he christened on February 9, was a regular attendee at mass with his mother and was now in Heaven living a new life. He said God did not take away his gifts and He always “wants to bless us with something greater”.
It was not certain whether any member of the day-care centre was present for the fune­ral service. The centre has remained closed since the incident.
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