In her two years, Aaliyah Johnson reportedly endured physical and sexual abuse at the hands of a close relative. It came to an end on Sunday night when she was pronounced dead on arrival at the Siparia District Health Facility. An 18-year-old woman and a man, 23, have been detained by police in connection with her death. The couple claimed Aaliyah fell at her home at Maria David Trace, San Francique. However, according to police investigators, the child’s injuries were highly suspicious. Homicide officers said yesterday that they were awaiting the results of a post- mortem today to determine the exact cause of death. Police said from their preliminary inquiries, they learned that the child had been a victim of physical and sexual abuse. A report said that around 7.45 pm on Sunday, officers of the Penal Police Station went to the Siparia Health Facility after they were called to probe a suspected case of child abuse.
Medical personnel showed the police Aaliyah’s body which bore bruises on the arms, legs, forehead and stomach. There were also marks on the child’s back. A female relative reportedly told the police that Aaliyah had a bout of diarrhoea on Sunday night. She claimed child fell while the man was cleaning her. The toddler was taken by ambulance to the health facility where she was pronounced dead.
Relatives of the detained woman said she moved in with the man on Carnival Monday. The angry relatives pointed fingers at the man as they demanded answers into Aaliyah’s death. At the couple’s house in San Francique yesterday, the man’s relatives accused the detained woman of abusing the little girl, while the woman’s relatives also accused the man of abusing the detained woman. A relative, who lived nearby, said she was fighting to come to terms with Aaliyah’s death. “I was home when the ambulance came,” the relative said. “She (the detained woman) said the child fall from the bed...She had the child on my step.
“When I see the child, I tell she that child have to go to the hospital call the ambulance quick. She refused to call.” The woman said the man “had to cuss and get on and say something wrong with the child for she to call the ambulance.” She said Aaliyah kept asking for water. She said, too, that the child’s hands and feet were cold and her eyes “rolled back.” The child lived in a makeshift room fenced with galvanise sheets. Other relatives came out in defence of the detained woman, insisting that she would not have injured Aaliyah.
“She love that child too bad...She would never beat that child,” another relative said. “No matter where she going, she always have that child string up with she. “I do not know what to say...I was not there to see.” The relative claimed the woman had been a victim of domestic violence. He said Aaliyah “was real nice, always laughing.”
Reporting by Reshma Ragoonath