DISGRACEFUL!
Blaine slams State agencies over slow pace of probe into death of 4-year-old, but police say top-level investigation ongoing
Abigail Beckford, the mother of four-year-old Jordane Clarke who died after he was allegedly left in a car by his teacher. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

Betty Ann Blaine, founder of the advocacy group Hear the Children's Cry, has expressed disappointment and dismay at what she has described as the poor treatment being meted out to the family of four-year-old Jordane Clarke who died on February 24, after he was allegedly left for hours in a car driven by a teacher to his school.

"In my many years as an advocate for children and their families, this is one of the worst cases that I have seen of injustice, lack of concern and compassion, blatant indifference and a staggering irresponsibility and negligence. This case has brought me to tears," Blaine told the Jamaica Observer.

Jordane and three other students were reportedly driven to the school in Kingston by a teacher but while the other students exited the vehicle, Jordane did not get out. Several hours later the teacher reportedly went back to the car and found Jordane unconscious. He was taken to Bustamante Hospital for Children where he was pronounced dead.

Some seven months after the incident there has been no closure of the investigation and Blaine last week noted that Jordane's mother, 22-year-old Abigail Beckford, has since contacted Hear the Children's Cry and shared her struggles since the death of her only child.

Blaine said when she was first told the story she asked some simple questions and was left convinced that the matter needs a top-level investigation.

According to Blaine, her organisation is committed to supporting Beckford in her quest for justice.

"She [Beckford] has said all she wants is to know who is was responsible for the death of her child and we are going to work on the case vigorously so that this mother gets justice," said Blaine as she argued that this lack of compassion for the family only happens to people in Jamaica from the poor and working classes.

"This kind of thing never happens to Jamaicans from the upper echelons of our society, and this is why this case is so important to us. We want to say that every Jamaican deserves justice," declared Blaine as she underscored that the mother had to bury her only son with the cause of death unknown.

Blaine told the Sunday Observer that the still grieving mother calls her frequently as it appears that the mandated State agencies are not offering the required support.

"This is quite disgraceful and it should be treated as a case history in exactly what's wrong with our country when it comes on to these kinds of issues. We would like to put it right for this mother and every single Jamaican who is in this situation," said Blaine.

She told the Sunday Observer that following the death of Jordane, Hear the Children's Cry would have expected an investigation into the cause of death and a further probe into what is happening at the early childhood institution he was attending.

"We are just calling on the authorities to move now because this is very disgraceful and I'm calling on authorities to look at what has not been done right and how we are going to correct it," added Blaine.

But responding to the concerns from Blaine, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) told the Sunday Observer that the probe is being overseen at the level of the east Kingston divisional commander, Superintendent Tommilee Chambers, "who has gone above and beyond to support the probe.

"This is a case that is very emotionally charged. These investigations take a toll on the policemen and women who go out every day seeking to bring justice and closure for families.

"This particular investigation is ongoing. We are awaiting reports from the forensic laboratory that are crucial to the probe moving forward. As such, there isn't much more that we can share publicly," said the JCF.

"When a mother loses her only child, the pain is unbearable. We know that the cycle of grief is particularly painful and that's why we continue to be there for her in all the ways we can," added the JCF as it pointed out that its Community Safety and Security team has given the family critical support in a number of ways and maintained regular contact with the child's mother.

BLAINE... in my many years as an advocate for children and their families, this is one of the worst cases that I have seen of injustice
Arthur Hall

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