Saturday, February 24, 2018

Volney's "Brad Boyce" Statement : No use to Johnson's family anymore


St Joseph Member of Parliament Herbert Volney, left, laughs with Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran after his contribution in Parliament on Tuesday. - Photo by Ishmael Salandy.

Donstan Bonn

HERBERT Volney's confession in Parliament on Tuesday that he made an error in the manslaughter trial of Brad Boyce, is useless, said the family of the alleged victim in the case, Jason Johnson.

That's because nothing Volney now says or does can erase the

damage done, or bring him back to life, Johnson's brother Steven Johnson told the Express yesterday.

On Tuesday in Parliament, Volney, the Member of Parliament for St Joseph and a former High Court judge said, " If I am to go as I know very well from the case of Brad Boyce which I embrace, I made an error. I admit I made an error, there was the Court of Appeal to correct to me.They too made an error and by the time it got to the Privy Council, the case was ten years old and the Privy Council said (the case was) too old to be retried, 10 years."

Jason Johnson died after being struck on the head during an altercation on September 1, 1996 outside The Edge nightclub at Long Circular Mall, St James. Johnson died at hospital on September 16.

Brad Boyce went on trial for manslaughter before then Justice Volney, who, acting on his own accord, called chief pathologist Professor Ramnath Chandulal to testify about the qualifications of pathologist Dr Hughvon De Vignes, who had testified in the case regarding his autopsy report on Johnson's cause of death.

Based on Chandulal's testimony, Volney directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict, and Boyce, who now lives in Australia, was freed.

The Privy Council ruled in 2006 that Volney was wrong in law, but that too long a time had passed, and it would be oppressive for Boyce to face a retrial.

Stephen Jason said of Volney's statement, "I don't know how I feel right now. It has been so long. I don't really know what to say about Volney anymore." Stephen Johnson said he had forgiven Volney for his ruling in the matter because his parents Nancy Johnson and Stephen Johnson forgave the former judge.

"She (Nancy Johnson) forgave Volney for his act because she knew what he did. My mom and dad both forgive him. I was more grieving for them, over how they were grieving for my brother and as they forgave him I did the same."

Stephen Johnson faced another tragedy in January of this year, when both his parents died days apart.

Johnson, 31 said because his brother's death, the family suffered greatly both financially and mentally. His mother turned to alcohol to help ease her pain and his father quit his job. The parents separated and the three remaining siblings including Johnson were forced to work at an early age.

Johnson said after his brother's death and during the trial, his parents begged for compensation "of any sort," to assist the broken family. They never received any help and to date, the family is in need of a proper home.

Johnson who is now the head of the Johnson family said, " My dad applied for an HDC (Housing Development Corporation) house it was NHA (National Housing Authority) at the time in 1985. He still did not get his own place even after what we went through . On his dying bed he told me to follow up on the house for us and nothing materialised out of it."

He said his mother also tried to get the assistance of government officials past and present but without success. Johnson said even though "something should have been done a long time ago" if any compensation was to be offered to the family members who are all renting, they would accept it. However, their main concern was being able to obtain a house he said.

" Even today, life is still very hard. Everybody is still going through their tough times.The tragic death it had mental effects on us young children. We have grown out of it I think and we trying to make thing s work."

Johnson lives in Diego Martin with his visually impaired uncle Allan, 75, sister Tanya, 26, and five-year-old niece Aleah. He has one other brother, Sean.

(Richard Charan - Multimedia Editor)