OCA pursuing civil action in relation to 2018 fire at Walker's Place of Safety


The Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA) is pursuing civil action in relation to last year's deadly fire at the Walker's Place of Safety.

Two children died in the blaze on January 15, 2018.

Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison revealed on Wednesday that her office is in the process of filing a claim in civil court.

She said her office has also pressed the matter as far as it can in relation to whether anyone should be held criminally liable.

Speaking on The Morning Agenda on Power 106, the Children's Advocate outlined aspects of her office's investigation, starting with discussions with the police officer leading the investigation.

She noted that the fire took place sometime after the legal electricity service had been disconnected and the metre removed, “so one of the very questions that remain quite alive is whether or not there was an illegal connection at the material time.”

The Children's Advocate also wrote to the Police Commissioner in July 2018 and sent a copy of that correspondence to the Director of Public Prosecutions, indicating her office’s position that criminal liability was suspected, and had even drafted a proposed indictment, including “possible charges that we thought may be relevant, given all the circumstances.”

With Wednesday marking ten years since the deadly fire at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Ann, Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison said her office will be pursuing the Walker's Place of Safety incident with the same intensity as it did for the Armadale victims.
Seven girls were killed and thirteen injured in that incident. 
The estates of the deceased as well as the surviving victims have received compensation.  
Following a commission of enquiry into the Armadale tragedy, it was found that the fire was caused by a tear gas canister thrown by Constable Lawrence Burrell.
He was freed of charges in 2015 after the Crown conceded that it did not have sufficient evidence against him.


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