Chief Magistrate To Decide On Fate Of Man Who Threatened To Kill Health-Care Workers

(CMC) – A man who threatened to “kill” health-care workers after his seven year old nephew died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in Barbados will know his fate on February 14 after Chief Magistrate Ian Weekes adjourned the case on Monday.

It is believed that the deceased child was a casualty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Chief Magistrate Weekes told Rodney Corey Patrick Griffith, who apologised and turned himself over to the police last week, that “this is a grave, grave matter in the face of all the sacrifice that these people have been making for us.”

When he appeared in court on Monday, the accused, who has been in remand since last weekend, pleaded guilty to using a computer on January 11 to send an electronic communication which caused Gail Gollop, a member of the nursing staff at QEH, alarm or distress which constituted a threat.

The Court heard that Griffith’s nephew, Ricky Holder, passed away at the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit on January 8 where he was receiving treatment. Following his death, his parents requested that Griffith who the Court was told had been the boy’s favourite relative, be allowed to view his body. The request was allowed by Gollop who is part of the nursing staff at that department.

Three days later Gollop received a video via social media, in which she recognised Griffith. In that video he declared: “Anybody I see that deal with my nephew I gine kill them.”

Griffith subsequently made another social media video apologising for his actions and later turned himself in to police.

His attorney, Sade Harris, urged leniency, telling the Court that the accused was going through the stages of grief at the time and one of the stages was anger.

“This outburst came after the loss of his beloved seven-year-old nephew after seeing his body,” said Harris, urging that the Court impose a bond on the first-time offender and that it would “meet the ends of justice”.

Griffith also apologised, telling the Court “I am very sorry for posting the video and making the threats towards the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the staff”.

But the Chief Magistrate said he had a “fundamental problem” with Griffith’s actions adding “we are living in a strange place” where such behaviours are now commonplace.

“I am sure other parents who lost children and other close relatives have been devastated by their loss. My problem with the way that the society is evolving – is with a segment of the population and it is only a segment that behaves in a certain way.”

The Chief Magistrate recalled that people have visited scenes of accidents involving loved ones and had to restrain themselves despite their grief while the police conducted investigations.

“So you suffered a loss. “My question is what kind of social skills do we have in this place which could give this kind of reaction? A lot of you all do not seem to have any social skills. You know how often that behaviour manifests in the Accident and Emergency Department and in other departments of the QEH?”

He said Griffith had an opportunity to grieve initially after the loss, and then to go home to continue to grieve and process his grief some more.

“Instead you decide to lash out at the same people who sacrificed for the same nephew. This kind of angry behaviour has now become commonplace in our young people … .You actually went out and in the midst of all this after having time to consider, you lash out with this kind of thing.

“You honestly believe that members of the medical fraternity are feeling safe every time they go to work now? . . . To see after they have worked conscientiously to see someone threaten [them]. How do you feel their families will feel?

“This is a serious matter. It is a serious matter as to what message we are sending out. This is a grave, grave matter in the face of all the sacrifice that these people have been making for us. I will have to ponder on this matter,” he said, denying bail for the accused pending sentencing.

The QEH acting director Medical Services, Dr Clyde Cave, had issued a statement following the threats in which he said the hospital is taking “very seriously” threats made against staff members after a video began circulating in which staff of the Paediatric Department were being threatened with grievous bodily harm.

Dr Cave said that in spite of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) environment and other challenges the public is being assured that the hospital remains committed to providing safe, quality, patient-centred healthcare to Barbadians and visitors alike.