Monday, April 22, 2024

Son after justice for mum


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Andre Thomas’ life has been on pause for the last ten years and five months.

Those who know him best related how he is now a shell of himself. He’s no longer the fun-loving personality who enjoyed laughing, chatting and having a good time. Indeed, they said all the characteristics that once defined him have all but disappeared.

He is still grieving for his mum, Sherleen Thomas, who died on the Speightstown Bypass Road, St Peter, on November 29, 2007, after she was involved in a collision.

André’s sense of despair is compounded by the lack of progress in the criminal case against the person charged with driving the vehicle.

The only child is hurting because he wants justice for his mother, who was his rock, confidante and best friend.

The massive change in André’s personality occurred immediately after he saw his mum’s lifeless body.

Twenty-five years old at the time, André was overwhelmed with emotion. Tears flowed uncontrollably, he dropped to his knees, his body convulsed – then he collapsed.

Thereafter, he was consumed in deep depression. His communication with loved ones and others all but stopped as he was barely able to function.

The depth of his grief and despair was such that two months after the accident, his workplace laid him off as he could no longer cope there.

The Gall Hill, Christ Church resident spent more than a year afterwards trying to manage his life as best he could, but he has been unable to recover fully from the traumatic incident despite counselling.

Sherleen, then 48, was killed while walking towards the Speightstown Bus Terminal moments after leaving her workplace, Almond Beach Village.

The man eventually arrested and charged with the offence was Valentine Stevenson, of Hope Road, St Lucy. He was interviewed by the police at the scene. After he was charged, he was granted bail and has been on bail since then.

The case took about seven years to get through the Holetown Magistrates’ Court. It was heard at least four times per year. André would either have to leave work or not go to work at all. For the majority of those days, the case would be adjourned.

Though André said the case was supposed to be heard last October and Donna Babb-Agard, now the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), was identified
as the prosecutor, no listing of it was found in a search of the High Court schedule.

Also, attempts to clarify the present status of the case with Babb-Agard were unsuccessful as repeated calls to her were not answered, and neither were calls returned.

“October has come and gone and nothing happened. Trying to get hold of the DPP after that time has been unsuccessful. Every time I go to their office to enquire about it, the only thing the secretaries can tell me is that it was supposed to have happened. But there is no movement on it,” said sullen-faced André.

He is now worried that the ongoing environmental problems at the Supreme Court Complex will further delay justice for his mum.

“It is almost 11 years and we believe after all of this time that something final should have happened,” said Vincent Thomas, André’s uncle.

He said each time the case came up, it reawakened painful emotions, so the long wait for a trial was hard on them.

“It is like living through this nightmare again,” Vincent said.

“I went on the scene that night and saw my sister there lying dead as a doornail. I can’t begin to tell you what that feels like,” he said, his voice faltering as he became emotional.

“The next hurtful thing about it is when we saw the coroner’s report, Sherleen was a totally healthy woman . . . . When they itemised her heart, her liver, her lungs, the summary was that Sherleen was a perfectly healthy woman,” said the devoted brother, implying if not for the accident, his sister would have lived a long life.

The two are appealing for justice for their loved one and closure on the matter. (SP)


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