Mother found guilty of child neglect following fire which claimed the lives of her two sons
The St James woman who was charged in connection with the death of her two sons in a fire which destroyed their house in Paradise, Norwood, on November 1, 2019, has been sentenced to six months in prison after being found guilty of child neglect.
Shantel Brown, 32, was sentenced by High Court Judge Judith Pusey in the St James Parish Circuit Court last Friday.
Javanchi Lauderdale Palmer, then eight, and Tyler McLeod, who was one at the time, perished in the fire while their two sisters, Corey-Ann Palmer, then six, and Tyler’s twin sister, Tailer McLeod, sustained injuries.
The police reported that shortly after 11:00 pm, cops were on patrol in the community when they saw Brown and a group of persons drinking and gallivanting along the road.
The police instructed them to go home and drove away, but about 30 minutes later, when the police drove back to the location, Brown and her friends had returned to the streets and were again seen drinking and carrying on.
Minutes later, a woman ran to the location and raised an alarm that Brown’s house on Ban Lane was on fire. Firefighters battled the blaze as the one-bedroom board dwelling house was engulfed in flames.
When the fire was extinguished, it was discovered that Brown had left all four children inside the house, which had caught fire.
Cory-Ann barely managed to escape from the blazing house while dragging Tailer.
After carrying out cooling-down operations, the firemen discovered the charred remains of Javanchi Palmer on a bed, as well as those of his younger brother Tyler McLeod, underneath the bed.
In his mitigation plea, Brown’s lawyer, Albert Morgan, stated that she has accepted responsibility and that she was wrong.
“Given all the circumstances, she will be constantly mourning the loss of her children…She seems to have a problem with substance abuse and requires intervention,” Morgan said as he pleaded with the judge to be lenient.
Brown claimed in her defence that she did not attend a party, but instead went to a shop and asked a family member to keep an eye on the children.
The social enquiry report revealed that she cares for her children, but that it was customary for her to go to parties and spend a lot of time on the road.
“The community regards her as an excessive drinker who loves partying…All four could have perished…A non-custodial sentence is inappropriate because the incident was unavoidable,” Judge Pusey said.
The judge, however, stated that she considers all of the emotional damage that the remaining two children have endured and that she does not intend to further traumatise them as a result of their mother’s separation. She also took into consideration her guilty plea and the fact that she was detained for six months while awaiting trial.
The judge then sentenced Brown to six months’ imprisonment and recommended that she undergo drug treatment while in custody.