Justice delayed…

Pauline Bharat holds and looks at photographs of her with her son Sean Luke at her home in Orange Valley on Friday.  - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
Pauline Bharat holds and looks at photographs of her with her son Sean Luke at her home in Orange Valley on Friday. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

On Friday, Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds found the two men accused of the murder of six-year-old Sean Luke guilty of the 2006 crime.

In a media release, the Judiciary noted that this first virtual judge-alone trial was streamed live to the public in an online hearing. Only the judge and state and defence attorneys appeared onscreen.

The accused, Akeel Mitchell and Richard Chatoo, had agreed to the online judicial proceedings and were present for the reading of the judgment. The men, who were minors when they committed the crime, will be sentenced on August 23.

The reading of the written reasons for the judge’s verdict, which took three hours, was viewed by an audience of 12,000.

It was a modern moment in the delivery of justice, a long-awaited trial heard and argued entirely as remotely delivered streams of data, bits of information offered, challenged and weighed for truth and fairness from distant rooms.

It was also a reminder of another, older reality of the TT justice system: it ground on for 15 years of bureaucracy, with evidence missteps and a plodding pace that was at odds with the sudden, brutal attack on an innocent boy in a cane field in Orange Valley, Couva.

For Pauline Bharat, mother of Sean Luke, there has been no justice. In an eloquent, often agonising interview with Newsday, she spoke of the pain she feels every day she is without her son, her view from a window of the fields where her boy’s savaged body was found, sleepless nights on a pillow damp with her tears.

For her, time did not heal and this judgment brings no resolution.

As she lives on without her child, so do the families of Akiel Chambers, Amy Emily Annamunthodo and countless other children taken from their families by a hellscape of cruelties.

Those names are indelibly imprinted in the memories of many people, whether or not they knew these small victims. But too many of these children leave us without high-profile media notice. Taken by carelessly discharged guns or fatal abuse, they leave emptiness and the lingering pain of lives often hardly begun.

Even more survive, haunted by terrors no child should ever experience, some betrayed by those they trusted, others by those they had no reason to distrust.

The death of Sean Luke ended three boys’ lives. Chatoo was 16 when he was arrested, Mitchell not yet 14. What abuse and neglect in their lives brought them to that canefield with cruel assault and murder in their hearts?

Sean Luke would have been a 21-year-old man this year. He remains in familiar photos a cheerful, innocent child, a reminder of his lonely, painful death.

Not only that death, but the time it took for some justice to be done in his name remain a bloodstain on the national conscience.


"Justice delayed…"

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