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Jun 28, 2016

Chopping Victim, Minor, Succumbs to Injuries

Thirty-one year old Yo Creek resident Larry Banner is spending his second night behind bars for aggravated burglary and maim following a crazy chopping incident in the northern village. Last Friday, Banner with a machete in hand chopped three adults and three minors. A fourteen-year old victim was severely wounded and tonight the sad news is that Danny Choc passed away at about five this afternoon, while his mother remains hospitalized in a critical but stable condition at the K.H.M.H.  Years ago, Banner was diagnosed with a mental illness but not institutionalized nor was he receiving treatment. Tonight, News Five’s Duane Moody speaks with Mental Health Services Coordinator, Nurse Eleanor Bennett about such persons whose conditions are aggravated by the use of drugs.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A most heinous crime in the village of Yo Creek, Orange Walk took place last Friday at the hands of a madman. A schizophrenic patient with a history of drug abuse chopped six persons to various parts of their bodies around midday. From all accounts, the attack was unprovoked and life threatening.

 

Larry Banner

Nurse Eleanor Bennett, Mental Health Services Coordinator, Central Health Region

“If you look at that alone, I think anybody will say that a rationally thinking person would not do something like that. So it is very likely that mental illness or a psychotic mental state could have been at play here. Mental illness per say does not predict violence. We have quite a number of people who have been diagnosed with mental disorders and if you follow the statistics from the World Health Organization, you have twenty-five percent of your population with mental illness. And if you could relate that to our population, you don’t find twenty-five percent of Belizeans committing your violent crimes. So obviously mental illness is not a predictor of violence. And I want to make very clear that there are a lot of people who suffer with mental health problems, who lead normal lives and who work and who are in no way violent. But the statistics and the literature will tell you that if you add substance abuse to a mental disorder, it increases the likelihood of violence.”

 

Reymundo Cocom

Nurse Eleanor Bennett says that drug abuse, in most cases, creates a state of paranoia and delusion for persons living with a mentally illness. Larry Banner was medically diagnosed back in 2009 with a mental illness.

 

Reymundo Cocom, Uncle of Accused [File: June 27th, 2016]

“My nephew has a record of mental unstable, but besides that he also consumes drugs. I accept that. I am not here to justify his actions and I express my condolence. I can understand the feeling of the affected families and I just want to, on behalf of Larry and his mother who are more affect to just think a little on his condition, his medical status. And beg for a little forgiveness.”

 

On Monday morning, the thirty-one year old was arraigned in the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court for aggravated burglary and maim and remanded to the Central Prison in Hattieville, pending other charges. But there were several reports made against Banner in the past.

 

Selvyn Tillett

ASP Selvyn Tillett, O.C., Orange Walk Police [File: June 27th, 2016]

“Prior to this incident, same Mister Larry Banner…there were five reports made against him, but only in one of them, they requested court action. He was found guilty and bound over the peace for one year. So all the others for were just for future reference; no court action requested.”

 

Voice of: Emerita Pech, Daughter of Chopping Victims [File: June 27th, 2016]

“This is not the first time…it has been several times. He does it and he comes and they charge him, they lock him up and then he behaves good. One year has passed when I report him; he was behaving pretty good and then just all of a sudden he will come and do this. To me this is a surprise.”

 

Eleanor Bennett

It is anticipated that a psychiatric evaluation will be ordered to determine whether Banner will be able to answer to the charges levied against him. Regular treatment will then be administered. Nurse Bennett says that the police have been trained to arrest violent persons and not be mental health professionals.

 

Nurse Eleanor Bennett

“We can’t be the eyes and the ears of every community so what would happen in this case is that if a situation like this occurs and the person is obviously delusional, obviously saying things that don’t make sense and threatening people on a regular basis…while it is important to call the mental health services, you have to appreciate that this is not a situation where a nurse and a doctor can intervene because this is somebody who is violent. We can’t be the frontline person in this case because we don’t know how to deal with violence. So calling the police is an important first step.”

 

Due to fear, Yo Creek residents want that Banner, if released, be removed from of the village. But Nurse Bennett says that that restriction is against his rights and treatment will be important for Banner if and when he is released. But does a person suffering from a mental illness belong behind prison walls? Is there an institution where they can be placed?

 

Nurse Eleanor Bennett

“It’s several different levels of treatment. So first you have the acute unit. So we would keep somebody there for a couple of weeks just to stabilize them just so they are better, but not completely well, then we will move them to the Palm Center. They are not going to live there because mental illnesses are treatable. These are things that we can treat, even in terms of these violent situations. We don’t have the right to keep someone locked up forever because of a diagnosis. So that has to be absolutely clear. So once your illness has been compensated, you don’t have symptoms and by our assessment, you can be discharged then that is exactly what happens. Now if the court still has interests with that person, then that person is sent back to the courts and the courts decide what to do with that person.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 

Banner has already been charged with Aggravated Burglary and Maim. With the death of Danny Choc, it is expected that he will be facing new charges.

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2 Responses for “Chopping Victim, Minor, Succumbs to Injuries”

  1. carlos says:

    We should blame government institutions for this unfortunate happening. They knew the conditions of this guy and yet they left him free, instead of having him in an appropriate institution helping him. There are many other persons throughout the country which need help, but I know nothing will be done until a similar incident like this happen again. It’s so sad how our government does not see the need to help these persons. My condolence to the parents and family of Danny Choc for this unfortunate happening. May God console you and shed his blessing upon you in this hard moments you are crossing.

  2. Belizean Pride says:

    Also the direct family of Mr. Banner should be blamed since they could have long time requested some kind of help for his mental illness. Its been several occasions he has been violent so it should have been a hint to the family that he needed help. But many families tend to kind of hide it and take it for granted I say it since I have had experience with a guy like this in my home village. After many attempts the guy finally was help and he does errand now for people in the hood and seems more stable.

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