Two and a half years after a vendor was killed by an out of control vehicle, her daughter who witnessed her mom’s dying moments has described how the death still haunts the family today.
Josephine Robertson, who sold roast corn died from multiple trauma to the chest on October 15, 2019. She was the mother of five children.
The victim impact statement of her daughter, Shaphanique Robertson shows how far and deep the ripples of that fatal collision have travelled. The contents of her statement were quoted by Justice Angelica Teelucksingh-Ramoutar on July 1, while the judge was sentencing Lorenzo McLean, the young man whose actions led to the vendor’s death.
Shaphanique on behalf of herself and other siblings provided the court with a summary of the psychological and financial impact their mother’s death continues to have.
She revealed that she was sent into shock when her mother, with whom she was very close, was hit “right before my eyes”.
“This was the worst day of my life.When I stood over my mother lying on her back and all she did was look at me and started vomiting white stuff out of her mouth,” the daughter wrote.
Since the accident she and her sister are afraid to walk along the road as they are “afraid of dying the way our mom did.”
Neither she nor her 13-year-old sister (Josephine’s youngest), who suffers from childhood kidney disease has received any counselling.
“We still cry a lot because we miss my mother so much, I wish she was alive,” Shaphanique also disclosed in the statement.
One of the deceased’s sons was seated in the public gallery on July 1 and he broke down sobbing while the sentencing was taking place.
“One of my brothers had a mental breakdown because of what happened and has to be on medication but he is still not well. This brother is living in a shanty as he has nowhere to live, he is 22 years old,” Shaphanique wrote.
She also spoke about her sister once being a jovial child but now having no interest in anything.
Furthermore Shaphanique, the sole breadwinner to her own minor children, aged two and seven at the time of writing her statement was served with an eviction notice by the landlord.
“All I need is some compensation to repair the wrong so my family and I can have somewhere to live. I do not know how much it will cost for the roof to be repaired but I would prefer to have compensation in the amount of thirty thousand EC,” she requested.
Shaphanique’s grandmother (mother of the deceased) also provided a statement to the court.
Josephine was her only child, and since her daughter’s death the elderly woman has had to share in the financial and psychological burden of caring for her daughter’s five children.
“Her death has changed many things for us. I am overwhelmed with the responsibilities that I now have as the sole provider for my youngest granddaughter who has no living parents and having to be a support system to my oldest granddaughter from afar,” the grandmother said.
She must respond to their housing and financial issues.
The older woman said she has to help “…my granddaughter with the enormous task of having to look out for her older brother who has suffered from a mental breakdown, and be a mother to her youngest sister whose expectations are that she treat, provide and act as her mother.”
The family home has been in a state of disrepair following Josephine’s death.
She said “…financially I am no longer able to manage my own affairs and as I write this letter I am struggling to figure out how I will balance my needs with that of my grandchildren who I must in many ways obtain rent, provide for school needs, food, clothing and to ensure that they continue to have a decent standard of living.”
She believed that McLean was showing a lack of responsibility and compassion over the death of her daughter. In her words before the court on May 20 (when her statement was read into evidence), no one had apologized to them or cared for the deceased’s children.
“I am pleading that full accountability will be accepted and not merely regarded as an accident that is over with after this case closes but a sincere outreach will be made to support and help my grandchildren and I heal,” the grandmother wrote in her statement.
However, after the grandmother said this McLean apologized to her.
“I wish to express my sincere feelings towards her. I am very sorry for everything that was happening but at the moment I could not express my feelings because there were a lot of threats, confrontation,” he said.
“I find it rather hard to do so with people trying to harass me. I understand she is emotional but I wish I can reach out to her in some way to express my feeling to her,” he said in court.
“I get to understand the problems they are going through. I don’t mind if I have to compensate anyone for their troubles. I am truly sorry for everything that happened. If there is a way to make it right I would do my best,” he concluded.
For causing death by dangerous driving McLean was sentenced to two years and one month in prison, to be suspended for three years. Further he is disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s permit for 10 years from the date of the sentence and he is to pay $30,000 compensation to the family of the deceased within six months.