It was Christmas 2012.
Single mom, Cheryl Alexander, lived with her four children in a small house in Jacob’s Hill, Wallerfield blocked around with plywood and galvanise sheets.
“Why, God? Why?...He was innocent, he did not deserve to die like this.” These were the pain-filled screams of anguish from Siparia grandfather Winston Jerricho Cudjoe yesterday upon seeing the body of his grandson, 17-month-old Jaedon Jeremiah Joel Cudjoe, laid in a baby-blue coffin at the family’s Aquat Village, Old Siparia Road, Quinam, home.
Cudjoe, who was charged with manslaughter on Friday evening, was released on $200,000 bail to attend his grandson’s funeral. He is expected to appear before a Siparia magistrate tomorrow morning to answer the charge. Yesterday, Cudjoe, clutching his granddaughter Ainka’s hand, was the first person to receive the child’s body as the undertakers wheeled his coffin through the family’s front gate for viewing.
With pain etched on his face, Cudjoe embraced his daughter-in-law Masika Wharwood, sobbing loudly as mourners wailed at the child’s side. Cudjoe’s son Fergus held his father when he broke down in tears after viewing Jaedon, who was dressed in a white suit. Yesterday, Sharon Phillandez, Jaedon’s godmother and aunt, delivered the eulogy at the funeral service at St Dominic’s RC Church, Penal. She told Cudjoe that the family knew he was the “most grieved person.”
She reminded him that he had the family’s love and support and should forgive himself, for he is only human. “God is a forgiving God and he knows it was not a deliberate act, but the failing memory of a human being. We want to offer you these words of comfort, we hold not bitter feelings. The negative utterings of others will not shake our love and support for you. Now it is up to you to forgive yourself,” Phillandez said.
She said Jaedon was his grandfather’s “eyeball;” he would take him for drives, to the savannah and spent all his time with his grandchildren. “He stopped working for his children and started working for his grandchildren,” she said. Yesterday, Monsignor Christian Perreira, in his homily, admitted that the service was one of the most difficult he has ever had to preside over; he questioned the scales of justice. He lamented that “seasoned criminals” are allowed to walk freely, yet Cudjoe is being charged.
“Our justice system tells us it is all right to burden an already grieving family and man and treat him like that, (in) a way they do not deserve...” he preached to the packed congregation. He said, “There is a pain in our society, in our nation, in the distorted way of living and ways of justice, where those who are perpetrators of great violence are walking the streets as untouchables to the authorities.” Perreira told Cudjoe that Jaedon loves him and he is among the angels watching over him.
Deacon Tris Mathura prayed for justice and mercy to prevail. Jaedon was interred at the Batchiyah Cemetery, Penal. His favourite toy car, which his grandfather bought for his first birthday last November, was also taken to the burial ground.
How baby Jaedon died
Jaedon died in the back seat of Cudjoe’s Nissan Cefiro on Tuesday at the Petrotrin Penal installation where the 56-year-old Cudjoe worked. Hec was supposed to transport the child to the babysitter; instead, he drove straight to his workplace and forgot the sleeping child in the closed car. When he returned to the car after finishing work, at 4.30 pm, he discovered the child dead.