August 1, 2021

The Editor Speaks: When supervisors need supervising

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Words do fail me and today is one of those days.

I have been reading the media reports and the documents filed n the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida concerning Jamaican national Lionel Dwight Levers. He, together with Michael Anthony Stewart were supervisors employed at our Bonaventure Boys Home in West Bay.

Bonaventure Boys Home is a temporary living facility for at-risk children under the age of 16.

These two ‘supervisors’ took a party of boys, on November 29th, 2015, to George Town on a fishing trip. They, however, had logged in the home’s activity records they were taking the boys to the Cayman Turtle Centre – a short distance from Bonaventure.

Even though the weather was deteriorating the boys were allowed to fish in two different locations near Burger King restaurant,

When it got too bad there these supervisors then took their charges to the South Sound well known spot marked on navigational charts as a “Pull and be damned point”. So named because of its strong currents.

If the weather was deteriorating in the location near Burger King, it surely should have occurred to these supervisors that it wouldn’t take long for the same conditions to commence at South Sound just a couple of miles up the road? A place where even in calm weather has strong currents. A place one definitely should not go to and allow children to wade in the water and fish.

It has also come to light that both Levers and Stewart were not strong swimmers.

As a consequence of these two supervisors incredulous actions one of their charges, Risco Batten (14) died.

According to the court records, witnesses stated that after only fifteen minutes Batten began to struggle in the water, where he was fishing and swimming with the other boys. The sea had become very rough. Batten was the youngest boy in the group and not the strongest of swimmers. Other boys tried to help him but couldn’t. The current was too strong.

Levers instructed everyone to come back to shore. Batten, of course was unable to do this.

Whilst Batten was struggling what did our supervisors do to help?

It would appear very little. They did not even venture into the sea. It was left to other young boys in the group to attempt a rescue. These boys were able to find a canoe but by this time Batten was out of sight. Never-the-less they tried to find him.

Levers now had called 911and the first police officer on the scene found Batten, pulled him from the water and gave him CPR. Batten, sadly, was pronounced dead at the George Town Hospital.

Levers and Stewart were placed on leave while police opened investigations into the death.

Subsequently both men were charged with manslaughter and child cruelty. Stewart has been attending court appearances but has filed an application to dismiss the charges that are scheduled to be heard in Grand Court on Sept. 27.

Levers allegedly left the Cayman Islands for Jamaica in September 2016 and in the following July left for the USA. This was found out when Cayman police travelled to Jamaica to interview him.

Justice of the Peace Cecile Collins had issued a warrant for Levers’ arrest in January. It had taken almost seven months for the police to act.

Levers had told the police his reason for not helping was because of his poor swimming abilities and fear of the strong sea current.

I understand that Levers has been detained in the U.S., and is scheduled to have a bond hearing there on Thursday. The date for an extradition hearing will be determined at the bond hearing.

Even though I have found the words that at first had failed me I dare not place them in this Editorial for fear they may be used by the defence if and when these two supervisors eventually face a judge.

Now to discuss my opening title – “When supervisors need supervising”.

All supervisors should themselves be supervised. Of course, they should be trusted to do their job. However, to what degree?

Was any check done on how Levers and Stewart performed their work?

Were they given clear and concise goals they needed to accomplish?

Did they always obey instructions?

Were any of the boys under Levers and Stewart’s care asked how they are doing?

Were they ever given complex tasks to perform and evaluated how they accomplished them?

Were they ever asked about their swimming abilities?

We know the answer to one of my questions. They did not always follow instructions. And I expect never asked if they were strong swimmers?

The fact one of them fled the country speaks volumes. Whilst the other thinks all charges against him should be dropped.

Would you want either of them supervising any of your children?

Don’t bother to answer that one.

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  1. Chris Johnson says

    Better heading would have been ‘Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes’


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