(CMC) – Police have detained the foster parents of a four-year-old child, whose post mortem had found died from multiple trauma last weekend.
“The pathologist conducted a post mortem examination on the body of the child and certified that she died from multiple trauma which would indicate that she was beaten severely and that beating was what actually caused her death.”
“Police have also detained both foster parents. They are still in police custody. They were charged based on advice of the DPP over the weekend for aggravated assault,” Police Commissioner Chester Williams said.
Ayanna Bennett had been given up for foster care and had been living with her foster family since September 7 this year in Spanish Lookout, a Mennonite community in the Cayo District of Belize.
The chairman of Spanish Lookout, Harry Letkema, had in a statement said, “our community members opened their home to Ayanna as their foster child.”
“Opening their home also signaled the welcoming of our entire community of the young child. Our Spanish Lookout community is no stranger to fostering children, as many of our families have been loving foster parents and families for many children over the past years…”
“As a community, we look to the authorities to continue its investigation and establish the cause of Ayanna’s sudden death,” said Letkeman pledging that the community will work with investigators.
Williams said Ayanna was beaten because she was unable or unwilling to identify the colour of a truck.
“I saw that the both foster parents have admitted to having lashed the child with a belt…but I don’t know if a belt would cause that amount of force as the doctor had prescribed following post-mortem examination…So, like I said before, we’re waiting now for the DPP for the instruction in terms of original charges that may follow on the foster parents. I have asked of the investigator who witnessed the post mortem to find out from the doctor if in fact the injuries appeared to be over a period of time or just moments before the death,” the Police Commissioner said.
“I am not sure if the doctor had given an answer to that question, but the foster parents admitted to having lash her over a 24 hour period, per se, due to the fact that they might have been teaching her some colours issue and the child refused to call out the colours as was being shown to her by the foster parents.”
He said the law under justifiable use of force and harm does speak to the fact that parents can chastise a child.
“But it also goes on to say that the chastisement of the child must not be too excessive. And in this case where that so called chastising is so severe that it caused the death of the child, then certainly the parents can be held to account.
“It might not be a child of murder, but at the very least manslaughter. Well, it is a sad situation,” he said.