Magistrate slams Director of Public Prosecutions for withdrawing manslaughter charge against Bjerkhamn

What part does race play in the community’s reaction to the Johan Bjerkhamn sentence?

In a highly unusual comment, Magistrate Barbara Cooke-Alleyne publicly criticized Barbados DPP Charles Leacock (photo above) for dropping the manslaughter charge against Johan Bjerkhamn in the accidental shooting death of his son.

“The loss of a child’s life in the manner herein accepted by all parties is serious enough to merit a custodial sentence, even if other relevant considerations lead the court to exercise its discretion not to order such,”

Magistrate Barbara Cooke-Alleyne in The Nation: Charge Regrets)

For the record, we at Barbados Free Press are no supporters of DPP Charles Leacock. In our opinion he should have been fired and gone to jail on two occasions unrelated to the Bjerkhamn case. Leacock is corrupt and has a record for abusing women and the law. (Read BFP’s Secret Withdrawal Of Bribery Charges Against Barbados Cop Stinks Of Corruption At The Highest Levels and Barbados Chief Prosecutor: Woman “provoked” her killer by refusing sex, therefore not murder.)

But in relation to the Bjerkhamn shooting, Leacock made the correct decision as we’ve stated in our post – BFP’s Opinion: No jail sentence necessary for Johan Bjerkhamn, but larger issues ignored

Bjerkhamn’s actions on the day his son died came nowhere near the test for manslaughter. He blew his own hand apart as he was handling the Glock pistol, with the bullet traveling on to kill his own 11 year old son after passing through his hand. Stupid? Yes. A moment’s carelessness that he will regret for the rest of his days? Yes. But manslaughter? Give it a rest. It’s not even close.

Coveted Christmas sentencing: Bjerkhamn’s case was adjourned to the coveted sentencing period of the few days before Christmas. This was a transparently manipulative technique to garner sympathy for the accused. It was unnecessary and on an emotional level almost made me want to see him thrown in jail just because we Bajans are tired of seeing the justice system played like a piano by the elites.

Race might have played a role – in the calls to have Bjerkhamn imprisoned.

Some of the reader comments here at BFP and elsewhere on the internet voice the opinion that the manslaughter charge was dropped because Bjerkhamn is white. When he originally left the island for medical treatment after the shooting there was widespread upset because some people, (including some BFP staff) believed he was given special treatment because of his status as a rich white elite.

Now that the facts of the case are fully out in the open in court, it is obvious that the death of 11 year old Luke Bjerkhamn involved one careless moment – probably only a second – with none of the history or other actions and intents necessary to justify manslaughter.

But some folks would love to see Bjerkhamn go to jail just for the pleasure of seeing a rich white elite behind bars. That, my friends, is a simple truth that is behind much of the ‘outrage’ over the reduced charges and sentencing. If you wanted to see Bjerkhamn in jail, look into your own heart and answer yourself truthfully… Did you just want to see one of them behind bars for a time?

24 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues

24 responses to “Magistrate slams Director of Public Prosecutions for withdrawing manslaughter charge against Bjerkhamn

  1. Anonymous

    Depending on what complexion and how much money you have in Barbados decides what kind of sentence you get bout here look at the woman that child only walk about in the night she get send home and had some jail time and he kill a whole child and what happen nothing cause he white she black that is how we court does work bout here……………… it for who got money white people in Barbados does get way with everything.

  2. It is the easiest thing in the world to play the ‘race’ card and my experience is that it matters little whether you are black or (as me) white. So, for me, in this instance, the colour of the accused is irrelevant and any suggestion of ‘race’ is mere prejudice.
    The Magistrate was, no doubt, within her rights to express concern; and yes, there have been recent cases where the concept of ‘plea bargaining’ has figured in the system. Legally speaking, however, the DPP was probably right – just about – to drop the manslaughter charge; but to handle a loaded gun, as here, might have sustained one. It might just have been accounted criminal negligence of a high enough order. But I do assure you that this has nothing to do with the ‘Christmas Spirit’. In terms of bail applcations, for example, there is little enough of that about once the prosecutor objects to it and this despite the very clear provisions of the law on bail. It might just be a litlle strong to label the DPP “corrupt’ – but then I suppose he has recourse to the law on defamation as an option!

  3. Understand how LAW wuk

    Can you imagine the machinations that went on behind the scenes
    to come up with the “correct” CHARGE, in the first place?
    NOT the SENTENCE…

    Manslaughter would be obvious duuhh,
    but if you can have the initial CHARGE whittled down to Something Lesser
    heck you’re out in front already, aren’tcha?

    Amazing how people don’t understand how dis ting duz wuk!
    There are max. and min. sentencing guidelines PER *CHARGE*
    so you get the CHARGE fixed, yuh see?

  4. Angela Ifill

    Erroll Barrow once said the courts aren’t for poor people.Or poor people should keep out of the courts something to that effect.It goes without saying what color poor people are in Barbados.

  5. Anonymous

    “But manslaughter? Give it a rest. It’s not even close.”

    A custodial sentence may not be appropriate in this case, but the obvious charge is criminally negligent manslaughter. The DPP has stated this charge was dropped because of lack of evidence as to serious negligence or recklessness. But a live bullet was placed in a gun that was being cleaned in the presence of a child. Prima facie that is gross recklessness on the part of the defendant.

    The Magistrate is right to express her concerns.

  6. Caswell Franklyn

    Very early in my career, I instructed soldiers on the use of weapons. Therefore from my limited knowledge of weapons, I find it extremely hard to believe that the incident could have happened the way that was accepted by the DPP. The injury to Bjerkhamn’s hand and the fatal injury to his son are more consistent with a third party taking a shot at the father. I do not believe that the weapon was in Bjerkhamn’s hand when it was discharged.

  7. shedroof

    Caswell Franklyn, you are correct; and according to the DPP: police investigations helped lead him to reducing the charge, LOL. Are these the same Barbados police officers that couldn’t pass a gate to investigate the domestic abuse of a woman at the hands of a white man.

    Clif246, you may be white, but are you also shameless and blind? You are a child of your forefathers who saw nothing wrong with sending black people to cruel deaths for crimes committed by your white kin. Now it is easy for you to talk about the “race card” and “mere prejudice”. None of your children will ever die in police custody in Barbados, that is for sure; because they are all little white angels and only black people smoke dope and commit crime. Your comment above is disgusting and vile, to say the least.

  8. rastaman

    @Caswell Franklyn: Your conclusions are correct. That is the version I heard.

  9. Understand how LAW wuk

    We have all heard versions 1 thru 16.

    Serious gun-owners (i.e. better men than all of you, a la mucho experience)
    have hypothesized how a bullet from a safe,unloaded gun
    can go thru a wrist and then into the chest of a nearby child.

    * Who was holding the gun?
    * Why was the trigger finger even within the trigger-guard?
    * Did an actual trigger pull precipitate the sear allowing the hammer or firing pin to crunch the primer?
    * Had the sear been modified to render a hair-trigger?

    Gun dealers are not fools.
    They know damned well how to unload a gun before cleaning it.
    The “cleaning” story is a story, that much we can be nearly 100% sure of.

    If indeed the cleaning story IS the real truth,
    then that most-irresponsible circumstance IS INDEED one of gross criminal negligence
    because no responsible gun-DEALER would mistakenly leave one up the spout by accident
    while cleaning the gun
    with a kid in the room
    with the gun somehow pointing at said kid’s chest.
    Guns are simple mechanisms to load and unload. There’s no mystique to it.

    Whatever version (1 thru 16) we individually choose to believe
    is another matter ..and we shall never know. Conspiracy theories abound
    especially on a small island!

    One suspects that not even Bjerkhamn The Elder knows the precise and exact truth
    although he may have rec’d. a version fairly close to what actually ‘went down’ -other than his grand-son.

  10. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Caswell

    I say yup yup. I really do not think you have to be an expert not to figure out that the accuse story leaves alot to be desired. If the boy was in the room at the time, parental instinct would or should have kicked in and turn the gun whilst cleaning in another direction. Why then was it pointed in the direction of the boy. Something does not sound right here and for the DPP to withdraw the manslaughter charge to a lesser account something do not sound right there either. I think the DPP really DOO DOO this case. But such is the case in Barbados practice law

  11. Anonymous

    yes bjerkhamn should be in jail he helped to build it and had to be moved because of a gun issuse up there should see how the poor black man lives in the cells,the fellows would love to see that big head sloppy man with his pants down.

  12. anon

    racist BFP took down the other topic dealing with child killer Bjerkman. Why?

  13. BFP

    Hello Anon,

    We at BFP didn’t “take it down”, we put it back to its original spot, and linked to it in the other more current story.

    Merry Christmas to you!

  14. Black & Fed Up

    If it was an average black man he would be in prison all now and his hand would have rotted off in jail!! The white school teacher who was growing marijuana plants in her front yard got a fine. Catch a black man with a spliff, he will be remanded! And who hands down the sentences…… BLACK PEOPLE. It is soooo sad that in this day in age we are still stuck with this slave mentality!! Selling out your own!

  15. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    OH yeah the case with the white woman growing marijuana. Was wondering what happened to that and now you are saying that all she got was a fine. Ok people the justice system in Barbados through this case with the white school teacher summates that if you grow marijuana in your front garden you do not have the worry you will just get a fine. By the way how much fine did she get slapped on her?

  16. Joe Itellit.

    I whitish and I love how all like me so cud do bare dixie bowt heh and geh way wid all and de foolish black peepul duz be lock up fuh everyting…lock up all all all and gimme uh chance to move troo hard hard, den. Or so the story goes, LOL….

  17. Jenny Biglipps.

    Yeah Joe, you de man….

  18. Marvin Bareback

    Racism blinds people whether black or white. The white woman got a 50,000 dollar fine for 11 baby plants. A black fellow got a 10,000 dollar fine in December for 40 mature plants. What side of the racial divide do you think that falls on?

  19. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    So the caucasian lady was fine $50,000.00. I wonder if we would be privy to any other details concerning if the fine was really imposed and paid. After all it is well known fact that these things are played out in a court of law to appear that justice is being served when in fact it is never executed. So was there a fine with payment or did one of her big up friends or associates contacted their political and power government figures to get a lesser account or no account at all.

    Don’t blame me for being a sceptic and not trusty of our judicial process, the system made me this way!!!

  20. A trial should take place. Manslaughter would seem the MINIMUM charge to be faced.
    Sorry BFP but I feel you called wrong on this one.

    Maybe only the mixed race can view with balance??

  21. rastaman

    Maybe that trial would bring out the truth

  22. Joe Itellit

    The truth is nobody could care less…

  23. Nice

    Could anyone assist me with a very good ‘pro bono’ attorney-at-law to bring an action against the state. I may need 2. It is serious

  24. Never heard of him but , his name is Swedish. I`m sure Swedish Tax IRS and financial police wanna know more about him and howe JOHAN BJERKHAMN bacame that rich without pay taxes here or make any noise ?