Man on trial for assaulting son

A MOTHER testified Tuesday of going to the New Amsterdam Hospital Intensive Care Unit on the night of May 7, 2015 and seeing her 10-year-old son writhing in pain and saying: “Mummy, my whole skin burning! Help me!”
On trial is the child’s father, Devindra Somawaru, who allegedly threw a flammable liquid on him before setting him alight at their Gangaram, East Canje, Berbice home on the night of May 7, 2015.

Somawaru has been indicted on a charge of attempted murder, in that he caused grievous bodily harm to the child, Rickey Resaul Somawaru, with intent to murder him.
Further, the State has presented an alternative case of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, contrary to Section 57 [a] of the Criminal Law [Offences],Act Chapter 8.01.
The accused, who is unrepresented by counsel, has pleaded not guilty before Justice James Bovell-Drakes and a mixed jury.

Testifying, Shanta Bridgepaul, the child’s mother, recalled on Tuesday that after she and the accused had separated, Rickey, their eldest son, went to live with him.
The reason the child was sent to live with his father, Bridgepaul said, was because he had failed to return home one day after school. At the time, she said, she and Rickey were living on the Corentyne Coast.

As a consequence of his infraction, a report was made at the local office of the Child Protection Agency, where, following a meeting with both parents, it was decided that the child should be temporarily placed with the father.

She recalled that it was between 21:00 and 22:00hrs on the night in question when she received a call saying that Rickey was in the hospital.
She said that after the medical practitioners had done all they could to assuage the child’s pain that night, sleep had to be medically induced. The following day, he was transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, where he remained for five weeks.

On August 31, 2015, Rickey was taken to the United States of America, the mother said, where he was admitted to the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston, Massachusetts.
At the time of his admission, the witness said, her son was unable to use his neck or arms, and his mouth, which had remained permanently open. One of his ears, she said, was also sealed off.

And while his neck and arms are much improved, he still needs to undergo corrective surgery for the next 10 years, with yearly visits to Shriners’ during the July/August period.
Before commencing his cross-examination, the accused, who is representing himself, said he, too, is saddened by his son’s pain and suffering, as he was very much a part of his conception.

Asked how she knew that it was he who had done the deed, Bridgepaul replied, “Our son said, ‘Ma, daddy throw all the methylated and scratch the matches.’”
Pressed further by the accused into saying what she thought of him after the child told her that, the witness replied, “I was concerned about Rickey and his pain; I could not think of you!”
Bridgepaul said she believed her son’s story even though she was not there when it happened.

Responding to a certain line of questioning from the jury, the woman said:
“While my son lived with his father, I visited him at his school, bought his text books, and catered for his extra lessons.
“Rickey never indicated that he was abused previously by his father. However, since the incident, he cannot function like a normal person.”

Another witness, one Ravendra Singh, said he awoke the night after hearing someone screaming out his name.
On venturing out into the street of his Gangaram home, Singh said, he saw Rickey, the accused’s son, sitting under the landlord’s bottom-house with burns on his stomach and back.

The witness testified that in the presence of the accused, the child said his father had thrown methylated spirits on him.
Singh said that after calling in a report to the Reliance Police Station, a neighbourhood police rank came and together they took the injured child to the Reliance Station before taking him to the New Amsterdam Hospital, from where he called the child’s mother.
Roxanne Pedro, a social worker attached to the Burns Care Unit of the GPHC, testified that on May 12, 2015, she interviewed the victim and thereafter witnessed a statement being taken from him by Detective Corporal Michael Peters.

The witness said that at the time of the interview, the victim, Rickey Somawaru,had healing scars on his face, torso, chest, both hands and thighs. He also had what in medical terms is called a “contracture”, whereby his neck was tilted to one side.
Responding to questions from the accused, Pedro said she had asked the victim how he came by his injuries, and that he’d later given her an unsigned statement.
She subsequently explained that while she is not employed as a law enforcement agent,it is mandatory that she take statements which are kept as records.
The social worker recalled that for the five weeks the pre-teen was hospitalised, she visited him five days weekly, during which time she counselled him, as he needed support.
The prosecution’s case is being presented by State Prosecutrix Orintha Schmidt.


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