Submitted by Caswell Franklyn
I have heard a lot of comments about the Director of Public Prosecutions giving Bjerkhamn a slap on the wrist for killing his son. Some have even called the DPP’s integrity into question. While I understand the sense of outrage that is being demonstrated throughout the country, I am not one of those that would jump on the bandwagon without a clear understanding of what transpired.
Persons who have been critical of the DPP’s actions in this case clearly do not know or do not understand the procedure in Barbados. It would appear that their understanding of the law is being influenced by American television programmes. The first problem for the DPP is that his office does not have an investigative arm. He has to rely on the Police to investigate cases and then they would forward their findings to him so that he can decide whether or not to file a charge. The public does not know what is in the police report, so the DPP could very well be taking some undeserved abuse for a situation over which he had no control. Before I can come down on either side, I would have to be privy to the police report.
This case clearly demonstrates that the evidence in matters like this should be made available to the public after the conclusion of the case, and after the time for the appeals process has expired.
Very few people know the truth of what transpired to cause the death of little Luke Bjerkhamn, and I daresay that I am one of those who find it extremely difficult to believe the version of events on which the DPP relied. But my belief is not evidence that could stand up in a court of law. My belief comes from my experience with weapons. When the Barbados Defence Force was first established I was a weapons instructor. That is why I am able to say that the accepted version of events is virtually impossible. The injuries to Bjerkhamn’s hand and the fatal one to his son’s chest are more consistent with a third party firing at the father, who got injured while taking evasive action to avoid being killed. I could be wrong but my scenario makes more sense than a trained gun dealer cleaning a loaded weapon and then contorting himself in such a way that he could manage to injure himself in the hand.