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Baby Janae died in Rose Hall on Feb. 11, 2024 after her throat was slashed, allegedly by a 22-year-old male relative.
Baby Janae died in Rose Hall on Feb. 11, 2024 after her throat was slashed, allegedly by a 22-year-old male relative.
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Two weeks after 1-year-old baby Janae died in Rose Hall after her throat was slit, allegedly by a relative, investigators are only now beginning to make some progress on the case, as far as interviewing the suspect is concerned.

iWitness News understands that detectives were only able to interview the 22-year-old male suspect this weekend after a retired mental health practitioner had been retained to treat him because he had displayed signs of mental illness.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues to be without the services of a psychiatrist, a situation that has been ongoing for years despite concerns by High Court judges, the chief prosecutor, lawyers, and other prominent members of the society.  

iWitness News understands that a number of people in Rose Hall are suspected to be affected by what observers say could be to be drug-induced psychosis amidst reports of a proliferation of unintentional cocaine use in the North Leeward village. 

Janae is the second baby to die in SVG in less than a year, allegedly at the hands of a mentally ill relative.

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On May 5, 2023, a 6-month-old boy died in Belair, allegedly after being thrown from a first-floor apartment to the ground, apparently by an adult relative who had a history of mental illness.

St. Clair Leacock 2
MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock speaking at the NDP’s press conference in Kingstown on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

At a New Democratic Party (NDP) press conference in Kingstown on Wednesday, iWitness News noted to Central Kingstown MP St. Clair Leacock, the opposition spokesperson on national security, that police had not been able to interview the suspect.

iWitness News further pointed out that when someone is alleged to have committed a serious violent crime, the public tends to be dismissive of concerns about the alleged perpetrator’s mental health. 

“… we can’t have a society and take care of our mentally ill people, which is a serious problem, and don’t appreciate the need to have not one [psychiatrist], but certainly must be more than one,” Leacock said. 

“I’ve had the unfortunate privilege to go to what we call the mental home already. And I tell you, you wouldn’t want to have your relatives being taken care of in the way that they are. I’m sure they’re (the staff) trying their best but it’s something that has to be arrested immediately.”

He said he had no doubt that the NDP’s shadow minister of health, Daniel Cummings would speak to the issue and is “working fervently to have a solution. 

“But we can’t go on this way. It’s no way to do business,” Leacock said.

‘This amount of work is crazy’

Last year, the government was able to attract a psychiatrist from India, but she quit the job after just two months.

“I got the impression that the volume and type of work she was being asked to do fell outside of what she was expecting and I am not sure she felt that she was able to cope,” High Court judge Justice Brian Cottle said in September.  

“So, she took the position that she would no longer hold the position to be the person tasked with providing psychiatric evaluations for persons charged with criminal offences,” Justice Cottle said.

One source familiar with the interaction of the psychiatrist and the state told iWitness News that in demitting office, she said:

“I am a psychiatrist. I know crazy when I see it. This amount of work is crazy. I am not doing it.

At the end of the criminal assizes last December, acting Superintendent of Prisons Dwayne Bailey told the High Court that there were 40 mentally ill people in the prison system, 24 of whom were there for murder or manslaughter. Seven of them were awaiting trial.

During that same sitting of the court, Director of Public Prosecution Sejilla McDowall said she continued, as the head of chambers, to struggle with how to deal with defendants who have psychiatric problems.

McDowall told the High Court that the country did not have a psychiatrist even as witnesses, more so than defendants, are presenting with psychological disorders as a result of the impact of crime. 

“Those are the numbers that are not presented here. What is the real impact of crime?” the chief prosecutor said. 

Justice Richard Floyd
High Court judge Justice Richard Floyd.

‘people are suffering, justice is suffering’ — High Court judge 

Then, in January, the most recent addition to the High Court bench, Canadian-born Justice Richard Floyd, noted the impact of the absence of a psychiatrist on the justice system.

“I am told there is none currently in this jurisdiction, and people are suffering, justice is suffering; but this is not within my jurisdiction,” the judge said.

He made the comments while presiding over a case management hearing in a sexual offence matter in which the court had ordered a psychiatric report on the defendant. 

“We can’t proceed further with your case until an assessment. We can’t do that yet because there is no doctor,” the judge further told the defendant.

Also in January, defence counsel Grant Connell noted the absence of a psychiatrist as he represented Candice John, 26, of Vermont woman, who pleaded guilty to child abuse in connection with a video in which she filmed herself smothering her 2-year-old baby.

“We do not have all the facilities in place but we have to work with what we have,” Connell told the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.

“She needs that. St. Vincent and the Grenadines doesn’t have a psychiatrist,” the lawyer further said.

Israel Bruce 1
Opposition Senator and lawyer, Israel Bruce, speaking at the NDP’s press conference in Kingstown on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

‘part of proving that guilt is to establish that the mental element’

Meanwhile, speaking at the NDP’s press conference last week, Senator Israel Bruce, a lawyer, noted the importance of psychiatric services when dealing with criminal justice. 

Bruce noted that a number of people are in custody on charges but have not been able to face trial because they have not been psychiatrically evaluated.

“And they’re simply sitting, languishing, of course, at state facilities,” Bruce said.

He anticipated the dismissive attitude of some members of the public about the welfare and wellbeing of people who are accused of certain crimes.

“… the person is not guilty until proven guilty,” Bruce noted.

“And part of proving that guilt is to establish that the mental element, what we call in Latin the mens rea, of establishing the crime, has to be present.”

Bruce asked the public to consider what would happen if a non-national is in prison in SVG for an extended period of time awaiting a psychiatric evaluation. 

“… six months pass, a year pass, a year and a half goes, two and then the foreign country where that person is a citizen starts to bring the pressure down on us in terms of our systems and say, ‘Look, you have held our citizen for far too long not being able to assess that person to determine his extent of criminality, and therefore you should release our citizen’,” the opposition senator said. 

“Those kinds of burdens could be brought upon us because we have not put in place the necessary measures,” Bruce said.

He said the issue is a “health indicator as to where we are, but it is a natural justice indicator that we need to resolve.”

2 replies on “Absence of psychiatrist hinders Rose Hall baby killing investigation”

  1. It’s unfortunate that a child had to lose their life before they authorities realized that a psychiatrist is needed at all times.

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