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March 4, 2014
Chateau woman dies day after police search

By: Taranjah Yaw Tue Mar 04, 2014

Residents of the close-knit Sharpes Village community of Chateaubelair are still in shock and anguish after resident Silma Thomas died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) last Friday, just over 24 hours after collapsing at her home during a police search.{{more}}

Thomas, popularly known as Codo, was reportedly not at home when the officers turned up on Thursday around 3:40 p.m. and had to be called from a next-door dressmaking establishment, where she usually hangs out. According to eyewitnesses, when Thomas got to her home, the warrant was shown and read to her and the search commenced.

The squad, led by Sergeant Bailey, included other black clad officers and a Corporal from the Chateaubelair police station in civilian attire.

The eyewitnesses say about five minutes into the search, the Sergeant came out of the house and began shouting for Mom-mom, the nickname of Thomas’s sisters, Rosanne, who was at the time a little distance away, going to her own home. A small crowd had gathered and became animated, with relatives shouting.

When Rosanne and another sister Joanne entered the house a short while later, a hush fell over the crowd. Then Joanne came out and went to the neighbour’s and borrowed a fan; the crowd went into an uproar, as it was realized that Thomas had fallen ill.

By this time, according to reports, Thomas’ younger brother Christopher and other relatives began shouting to the police to call a doctor to take his sister to the hospital, but he soon gave up and made some calls himself.

Onlookers said a young man arrived in a motor vehicle; they went into the house, brought Thomas out and drove her to the Chateaubelair hospital, where she was immediately sent to the MCMH in Kingstown.

Rosanne told SEARCHLIGHT that when she got to her sister’s home she met her sitting on her bed and leaning to one side with the Corporal fanning her with a pillow. Rosanne also said that she asked her sister what had happened to her and her mumbled reply was that they were harassing her. Rosanne and Joanne stayed with their sister and rubbed her with Alcolado until she was taken to the hospital, according to Rosanne.

After Thomas was taken away, Sergeant Bailey called out to Thomas’s brother Christopher to remain at the home while he continued the search. The search continued and lasted about 15 minutes, after which the officers left the house.

While the officers were boarding their vehicle, SEARCHLIGHT asked Sergeant Bailey if that was the first time something like that had happened during a search. He replied “Yes, in a way.” When asked to explain, he said that some persons tried that, but they were “playing tricks,” but Thomas seemed to be “for real.” The small crowd jeered.

Meanwhile family members say they are seeking answers. Siletha Howe, Silma’s mother, told SEARCHLIGHT she was concerned:

“Way kinda money and gun they looking for; neither Codo nor Pairie (her fiancé) nar go ah bush, so me na know way dem go get gun from,” the distraught mother said.

“We war justice fo’ Queen Codo,” said Bongo Black, a family member who was at the scene and helped carry Thomas to the vehicle that took her to the hospital.

Thomas was 49 years old and is survived by her fiancé, a son and daughter, two granddaughters, her mother, five sisters and three brothers.