Boy, 11, who committed murder cannot face prosecution – OCA
The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) has said the 11 year old boy who allegedly chopped to death 14 year old Oray Johnson on Monday in Low River, Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny cannot be prosecuted under Jamaican law.
Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison reiterated on Tuesday that the age of criminal responsibility starts at 12.
She explained that the presumption in law is that a child below 12 years old does not have the criminal mind to fully understand the consequences of any action that he or she may perpetrate.
However, Mrs Gordon Harrison said this does not mean that the matter will not be dealt with. She suggested the boy could get psychiatric evaluation or a psychological intervention “to determine whether or not he has been exposed to any adverse childhood experiences that would have given him the ability to come up with such a very violent reaction”.
In addition, there could be other considerations such as the environment in which the child lived, the level of parental supervision, and how he had access to the weapon used to commit the offence.
It is reported that the boys, who were friends, were coming from a shop when a dispute developed and the 11 year old used a machete to chop the 14 year old to death.
The incident has left the community of Low River in shock.
But Mrs Gordon Harrison believes the incident raises serious questions about conflict resolution.
“What are the conflicting skills that we’ve been teaching our children? How do you deal with conflict? How do you arrive at overcoming a difficult situation so that you can resolve the matter without resorting to violence?” she quizzed.
The Children’s Advocate, in the meantime, said the OCA will ensure that legal representation is provided to the 11 year old boy.
“We can’t be seen as representing one child’s interest over the other, so in this particular situation, we would not necessarily actively provide legal representation, but we would ensure that legal representation is provided through whatever arm,” she stated.
The Trelawny police are to interview the boy who will be kept in state care.
He had fled following the machete attack, but was later found in bushes and taken to the Wait-A-Bit police station by family members on Monday night.
Deputy Superintendent Carlos Russell, Acting Commanding Officer for the Trelawny Police, said after the boy is interviewed, the OCA and the Child Development Agency (CDA) will provide counselling.