Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Report in two weeks on St Michael’s Home death

Clifton De Coteau Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development said he was expecting a report  “within two weeks’ time,” after the falling death of 14-year-old Brandon Hargreaves at St Michael’s Home for Boys, in Diego Martin. 

Hargreaves was sent to the institution in 2012 after he was found locked in a dog kennel with a dangerous dog. Reports said he died while play-fighting with another boy at the institution. His mother Natasha Mottley has since called for an investigation. His great-uncle, Cascade resident Clyde Mottley, said he suspected “foul play”. At first, he was rushed to St James Medical Complex, and then to Port of Spain General Hospital, where he died on Tuesday night. 

Via telephone interview yesterday, De Coteau said: “I have asked them to give me a report within two weeks’ time. We are looking at whether there was proper supervision...and whether rules were followed. We are not saying it was not an accidental situation. We don’t question the veracity of what happened. We just want to know at 8.45 p.m., in that dormitory, was the supervisor present? 

“We have asked for an investigation. But based on the autopsy report, we just want to be certain. They said the boy had been ‘horsing around’.”

De Coteau also said while he could not dictate to parents what their children should look at on television, they had to be cognisant of “the diet of violence that children consume”. 

He added: “There is wrestling and martial arts. If you look at cartoons, they are very violent sometimes. We have to be careful about what our children look at or enjoy as entertainment.” 

Mottley said, “I believe there was a cover-up  taking place at the Home. He was living a stone’s throw away from me. The dog kennel is right here. I went to the Home and saw the  conditions their. They always want a report and nothing comes out of it. We keep hearing the stories about missing and abused children. But nothing comes out of it.”

Asked if anyone from St Michael’s  had contacted him,  Mottley  said: “No one from the home has contacted me to extend their condolences.”

Asked to share her view, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, chairman of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she did not believe there was reason to investigate the school over Hargreaves’ matter. 

Brandon’s funeral is set for tomorrow at St Ann’s Catholic Church, (after Normandie Hotel) at 9.30 a.m.      —ML