Police in Kingstown have taken a 27-year-old mother of five into custody after her youngest child, a 7-month-old boy, died after a house fire in Upper New Montrose — “Monkey Hill” — Friday night.
Police are yet to release any information on the fire, which has also left two of Tamara Lavia’s children – ages 3 years and 18 months — warded at the Milton Cato Memorial hospital.
However, Sharon Williams, Lavia’s next-door neighbour painted a very damning picture of the mother.
Williams told iWitness News Saturday afternoon that Lavia regularly locked the children inside the house while she goes partying and other places.
She said that the mother continued to do so although a fire about two years ago destroyed some of the curtains before it was contained.
The neighbour told iWitness News that she was in her bed when her son called her saying there was a fire at the Lavia home.
Lavia lives with her children on the ground floor of what Williams said used to be a two-storey abandoned house. The owner of the house died sometime ago, and his daughter lives overseas, Williams told iWitness News.
Williams said that she and other neighbours responded to the alarm about the fire.
“And when I came out, I saw fire in there. … the guys (neighbours) jump up there and a big lock was on the door. The guy was trying to pull open the door because he couldn’t get the lock break off. And as soon as he opened the door, the big girl, the 6-year-old one, rushed to him, because Tamara leave her on the bed and went away.
“When the door opened, he rushed to the boy and brought him out and fire started to blaze. When he go in, he couldn’t even get the children because of smoke,” Williams told iWitness News.
The neighbours poured water on the fire but couldn’t get out the baby, who was later pronounced dead at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.
Williams told iWitness News that four of Lavia’s five children – ages 6 years, 3 years, 18 months and 7 months old — were inside the house at the time of the fire.
“A big jail lock been pon (on) the house outside,” she said.
The neighbour told iWitness News that the father of the two youngest children sometimes sleeps at the house. The father of the two oldest children was shot and killed sometime ago, Williams said, but offered no information about his identity.
The father of the other child is a sailor, the neighbour said.
Williams said that she and other neighbours visited the children at the hospital on Saturday.
“We went down there this morning. We carried milk, cereal. The second to last (18-month-old) one, they told me that she cannot drink anything; they are giving her fluid because of something with her lungs.”
The oldest child is staying with a neighbour
“The baby, when they brought him out [of the house], all he doing was trembling. He ain’t crying because he been done gone.”
The woman said that the authorities should not even try the mother.
“Straight jail. No court, because everybody was talking to she, telling she about it. In the day, she locking them [up], they are walking through a little window here.
“A man took one of the children out of the house already and took her down the road to rape her and the mother ain’t learn from that,” Williams said.
When iWitness News met Williams, she had gone to the partly burned out house to retrieve some clothing for the children who were in hospital.
“We went down to the hospital and the nurses say — because hospital gone to the dogs — we gotta bring clothes, soap, towel, toothbrush, foot, everything for them. So I went up and got some clothes and I am going to wash them and tomorrow (Sunday), I’m gonna take them with some breakfast for the kids.”
Williams reiterated that it was not the first time that the house had caught fire.
“But this is the worse,” she said, and lamented that the house has no running water or electricity and that an open field next door is the toilet.
She said that the younger children’s father was at the house earlier on Friday and had told Lavia to stay at home.
“So she, when he went downtown, she dressed in her dance clothes and went to Heritage Square go maco (spy on) he. And when the police came, they asked how to get in contact [with her]. I tell them to go Heritage Square and announce her name, tell she her house on fire,” Williams said.
iWitness News understands that Lavia learnt of the fire when a DJ at the usual Friday night lime at Heritage Square in Kingstown announced over the sound system that she should come to the DJ’s booth because her house was on fire.