Johan Bjerkhamn Matter Exposes Double Standards In The Administration Of Justice

Johan Bjerkhamn

It has been how long since the Johan Bjerkhamn matter reared its head? We don’t need to be reminded of the tragedy but how can we forget when the dust settled about 1 year ago Bjerkhamn’s 11 year old son Luke was dead. Many Barbadians have been asking when will this matter finally be scheduled for trial. Most recent information indicates the Bjerkhamn matter – he been updating magistrates court on the injury sustained to his hand in the shooting incident –  has been adjourned and not been continued. What this means is that the matter now rest with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) whether the case has merit to proceed with charges or not.

The challenge for the DPP, and it should not be the case, there is the politics associated with this matter. There is the valid perception in Barbados and beyond that people with money benefit from a different kind of justice. Johan, the snotty nose son of  construction mogul (label borrowed from local media) Tomas Bjerkhamn has retained the best lawyers money can buy in Barbados, Sir Richard Cheltenham, Andrew Pilgrim well known. When all the emotion and politics is removed from the Bjerkhamn debate the only thing Johan should be charged for is being a jackass. Based on the titbits of information leaking on this matter BU believes that it will be difficult for any jury to prove criminal intent here. BU’s best legal opinion on this matter supposes that even if a jury did convict at first instance, any appeal would reverse the decision.

Interested observers are awaiting Director of Public Prosecutions decision on this case file with some interest.

The concern of Barbadians is the considerable delay this matter has already taken. Imagine if Johan was not ‘a rich White boy’ and not able to afford the best lawyers and satisfy court sureties, he would have been on remand for nearly a year. On the other side of the matter we have many person currently on remand at Dodds Prison because they don’t have similar resources.  We build palatial edifices to house prisoners (Dodds) and try cases (Whitepark Judicial Centre) but the administration of the justice system systemically breeds wastage.  Not only is justice delayed  justice denied, the cost to taxpayers to upkeep those accused of crimes on remand then to be found not guilty…. The Bjerkhamn  exposes the rich-poor legal divide in a very unflattering light. It also shows that the legal system as completely broken down.

The track record of DPP Charles Leacock has been very unflattering to date. Whether he has been hamstrung by the system or himself manipulated by the politics at play is for others to know. The DPP maybe influenced to bring this matter to trial mindful of an electorate who may feel that the lack of prosecution of Johan is because of his wealth and not because of the lack of a case.  We all know that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. Let us not fool ourselves on that one. It is reprehensible and completely unacceptable.

If only we can get a Chief Justice installed maybe we could attempt to change the blinding double standard embedded in the justice system in Barbados.

29 thoughts on “Johan Bjerkhamn Matter Exposes Double Standards In The Administration Of Justice

  1. What has the appointment of a CJ got to do with the DPP’s unfettered discretion? I am confused further. If, according to your “best legal opinion’ the prosecution will be unsuccessful; [how does he or she know this for sure?] why go through the pretence of a trial? You will only hear the same charges as now.

  2. I do not think that a jury is supposed to prove anything as you have stated. I think Jurors listen and then decide if the prosecutor has proven his case or not. IANAL so I could be wrong.

  3. It is not only money that influences the administration of justice: there are also political affiliation and lodge membership.
    Cases are adjourned sine die and that is the last we hear of them. What about the cases involving: Kenny Anthony’s wife and a number of UWI students a number of years ago; and the appeal case where the lawyer had 50 parking tickets for parking on the same spot every day. There are others but I will leave them alone for now.

    I am not certain that the gentleman would not be found guilty for causing the death of his son. I have to wait for the evidence. For instance did they wait before seeking medical assistance if he could have been saved? Also, was he negligent in handling the firearm? He could still be found guilty of manslaughter.

  4. Ok sir.

    Mr. Bjerkhamn has been charged with unlawfully killing his son.
    It is quite likely that the police have been unable to uncover any additional evidence to upgrade this charge.

    Imagine this:
    Boss man we ain’t got nuh evidence to disprove the man statement. He seh it was an accident and we can’t lick in he tail to mek he change he mout. Nuh witness in come forward to seh different and nuhbody in dah house in talking. We caan do nuh more. I caan tell you wuh fuh do but dis is a waste of time. I gine and look fuh sumting else to do hear.

    Now what you as the DPP is supposed to do after receiving a report like that. when you know full well that the RBPF is not exactly C.I.S NY?

  5. I am not disputing that there are double standards in the administration of justice like you said, everyone knows there is.
    We have learnt to live with it over the years.

    In Barbados there are two things that poor people should beware of; the court and the hospital.

  6. It seems that this eleven year old died because of an adult’s carelessness. If the inattentive adult were a Black and poor Bajan/Guianese/Trinidadian he would be having to show why he should not be in jail. Fortunately for this rich White man, he is not. It would be nice if this humane treatment was available to others. The retrospectoscope confirms that this man should never have had a licensed weapon. That is a discussion that can easily be had; using this unfortunate event to discourage licensing of weapons to the public.

  7. Negligent homicide would probably be the charge. As a consequence if this matter came to trial would Johan be likely sentenced to jail time? If he was then it would likely be suspended. It is the double standard at play which more of concern to BU.

    Jack Spratt you need to reread the blog at apply context to the reference to CJ.

  8. All yuh talking bout different laws for de rich white men, but I hear dat a rich white man went jail for embezzling money from the bank he worked at about 20yrs ago, and he served his time in Glendary just like all the de other criminals.

  9. There should be little doubt that rich people in any country have the advantage in legal matters because they are financially able to retain the very best legal representation ie OJ Simpson.

    The key in this case is that the RBPF was notified quickly and that they responded with the necessary investigative techniques to rule out intent to murder. Once everything fits and it is determined that this man killed his son in error, while cleaning his gun then the matter should be closed. (why would race have anything to do with it?) Anyone in this position has/ is/ will have to live with this mistake for their entire life. Naturally, in this case it is B that is concerned about being the subject of a witch hunt ie prominent whitey being made an example of. This has happened in a minor way with my nephew who was struck by a cyclist while driving on the main Worthing Rd, the guy comes out of a gap and hits him and my nephew is HOUNDED by the RBPF for sometime thereafter because they decided he should pay the guilty party!

    Did anyone ever come to trial in the PELE case? This was murder for sure, many potential witnesses were threatened( some may have been murdered).

    Prosecuting B is a waste of time and money, only the lawyers would win. Leave him to stew in his own mind, he must be in mental purgatory.

  10. Good post Moneybrain!
    The rest of the disgusting creeps here should gp out and thank their sanctimonisous asses they are not in that mans shoes.

  11. “In Barbados there are two things that poor people should beware of; the court and the hospital.”

    LOLLL funny Kracker yuh got muh kracking up, but the latter(hospital) also applies to some ah dem politicos. Dem doan trust de horsepital here, dem does jump pon a plane fuh NY or Miami.

  12. A friend told me years ago that in SVG next to the Court is the Prison and next the prison is the hospital and next to the hospital is the cemetary and poor always go in that order.

  13. Does this mean that any owner of a licensed gun can accidentally kill another person as long as they were “cleaning” the gun.

    Does this mean that this shooting could not have been staged?

    Did the Police request a blood sample to see if alcohol was involved?

    It is Hants opinion/feeling that Bjerkham was so “comfortable” with guns that he got careless but he should face a thorough investigation and due process.

    It should be up to the courts to decide.

    There is also the “what if”.

    What if the bullet had gone through a window and killed a tourist
    or a local white VIP?

  14. To be fair, the case should be dealth with on a timely basis, but truth is, none are or have been for the last few years, not just this case, allegation of rich this or white that are nonsense.

    As for the case, I would not want to be in that man’s shoes, ‘purgatory’ is probably a gentle term for his mind. That sentence is worse than anything a court could throw at him for negligence.

    On issues that CAN be addressed:

    -Who killed the former chief of immigration? THAT is a worry. A hit of that order should leave no stone unturned.
    -What of the $4illion dollar file that Mia promised would be disclosed?

    The first speaks to intimidation and retalisation at a senior public official.

    The second to methods of governance and unwillingness to disclose improper behaviour by someone, information now being withheld from citizens by the authorities.

    Who wields such power?

  15. This is a interesting case, one in which can cause the emotions to run high. However I fail to believe, even if one may perceive the gentleman as being an ass, that this father set out to kill his son cold stone. What ever circumstances led to this unfortunate outcome I certainly cannot believe what some would like you to believe. The police would have investigated the scene of the incident and base on the evidence given, sought to recreate the events as it played out. If this was done than the evidence from what was gathered would tell the story of what happened. And if the father has perjured himself in an attempt to get away with a possible crime the facts of the investigation will prove him otherwise.

  16. @WTF
    That is true! 45 yrs ago a high profile black man stole from a bank and did NOT serve a day, in fact, he became a FOLK HERO!
    It has been many years that race has taken second place to money and class. Pele, Stokes cases and lots more!
    If the police have evidence then bring a case and if he is guilty lock him away. Probability is that this is not necessary. BTW have anyone else here ever cleaned a gun? Empty guns have killed many including actors in Hollywood.

    There are many other cases that deserve FAR MORE attention than this case

  17. It is amazing how this man can do as he like , but a poor BLACK man smoking a spliff, (not that I advocate this is a good thing to do)or just look to some policcemen as a bad boy, ( he has not killed anyone,) but would be constantly stopped and searched and manhandled by policemen and are quickly charged and the case processed quickly. In this society, complexion, class and money are still important. Bjerkam had all these attributes. Case closed.

  18. Whatever the reason for this unfortunate incident, the point is that there must seem to be justice. If this was a black man, the C O D would already have been determined by the police. We don’t know but certainly there must be a determination.

    Let me remind all those who have black skins but white insides who seem to think that it is unbelievable that a white man can kill his child yes they do, just read the US media.

    The point is justice must seem to be done, regardless of the color of one’s skin.

  19. CMon people. From all reports this man accidentally caused the death of his son. He must still to this day still feel the pain and hurt of what transpired. Have some compassion!!! A father lost his son for petes’ sake.

  20. @ David

    The Barbados coin has two sides, one side is for the haves and the other is for the have-nots.

    You should do your part to bring this matter back to the forefront so every can see the double standards in this country. Absolutely sickening.

    Mon, December 10, 2012 – 4:33 PM

    THE 43-YEAR-OLD FATHER whose baby died after he forgot the child in his car has been charged with manslaughter.

    Dave Anthony Searles, an instructor/barber of Cemetery Lane, Road View, St Peter, appeared today at the District “A” Magistrates’ Court, where he was not allowed to plead to the charge that on December 5, he unlawfully killed Ethan Searles, who was five months old.

  21. Do not jump the gun. Lets give our judicial system a chance to work. Just like Mr Searles, Mr . Villages was charged and given bail for what could be described , a similar offence . So far the coin is still rotating on its axis.

  22. We do not know the cause of death of this infant.

    I found it very disturbing that the police speculated that the infant died of suffocation.

    I thought it unlikely that an infant would die of suffocation simply from being in an enclosed car.

    However infants and young children (and pets) die of heat stroke all the time from being left in enclosed, partially closed or even open cars on hot days.

    The temperature inside a closed car, especially if parked in the sun rises very quickly and a child can become unconscious in minutes, and dead in less than an hour.

    The rule is take your infant or child with you. Into daycare, school, work, church, bank, government office, where ever,

    NEVER EVER leave an infant or a pet in a vehicle, not for a minute.

    Because we are only human, and we can and do forget (sometimes)

  23. @ Colonel Buggy

    Not so fast buggy boy.

    Remember: By Maria Bradshaw | Thu, December 22, 2011 – 12:12 AM

    The decision of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Charles Leacock to file a lesser charge against Johan Bjerkhamn in the death of his young son was yesterday lamented by a magistrate.

    Just before sentencing Bjerkhamn to 240 hours of community service, Magistrate Barbara Cooke-Alleyne pointed out that the law under which he was charged would only have allowed her to sentence him to three months and/or a fine of $24.

    She also disagreed with the DPP that the matter in which the 11-year-old boy died from a gunshot wound, was not a serious one to merit imprisonment.

    “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,” the magistrate said, as she delivered a three-page written judgement in the high-profile case at the Holetown Magistrates’ Court.


    It is a case that caused much stir in Barbados when an 11 year old boy died after being shot by a gun which was being reportedly being “cleaned” by his father.

    Now his father has had his charge reduced from manslaughter to a lesser charge, that he “wilfully exposed” a child in custody “in a manner likely to cause injury to his health” Johan Bjerkhamn charge was slashed when he appeared in the Holetown Magistrates Court before Magistrate Barbara Cooke- Alleyne yesterday charged in connection with the shooting death of his 11-year-old son Luke last year.

    The Director of Public Prosecutions Charles Leacock, QC, made the announcement of the· withdrawal of the manslaughter charge yesterday against the 41 year old businessman of Leslie Gardens, Maynards, St Peter.

    The DPP said there was no evidence pointing to reckless endangering of life or gross negligence that would substantiate a manslaughter charge.

    The Incident

    Police Public Relations Officer Inspector David Welch confirmed that Luke Bjerkhamn,· succumbed to a gunshot wound to the chest while at his Leslie Gardens, Maynards, St Peter residence on April 11th.

    Luke he said was taken to the Sandy Crest Medical Centre, Holetown, St James, where he was pronounced dead. His· Father Johan Bjerkhamn, reportedly received an injury to one of his hands.

    The incident, which took place shortly after 1:30 p.m., reportedly occurred during the cleaning of a firearm.

  24. Bjerkman should been lost away in jail til thy kingdom come instead the lunatic ra**hole get away with the murder of his son now we see a black man charged with manslaughter for the same crime. The DPP who ever the f**k he is want firing. People emancipate yourself from mental slavery only us can free our minds.

  25. A friend told me years ago that in SVG next to the Court is the Prison and next the prison is the hospital and next to the hospital is the cemetary and poor always go in that order.

    not true.the hospital and cemetery is quite a distance away from the prison.

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