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Aug 26, 2003

Grandfather dies 2 months after brutal attack

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In June, an eighty-eight year old man and his teenaged grandson were brutally attacked in their home in Dangriga. It was a shocking crime, but many of us were touched by the courage and love between the two victims as they struggle to recover. But yesterday one of them lost the battle to survive.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Twelve-year-old Daniel Flores will never get the chance to grow up with his grandfather. On Monday, Dangriga resident, Solomon Augustus Pike died at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital from the terrible injuries he received in June after assailants broke into his home and savagely chopped both Pike and Flores as they slept. Today, Flores is still recovering from his wounds.

Lindy Jeffrey, Project officer, Helpage

“The major concern for Helpage, with all our older people, is the fact that they are very vulnerable. A lot of older people do not have the mobility to escape from any potential person coming into their home. And I feel that in the situations that are arriving at the moment, in regards to crime of people coming in an holding them up, the younger people feel the older people, because they are still working, have amassed a certain amount of money. But that’s not true, older people are working because they need to work to maintain themselves. They don’t usually have any extra.”

It is estimated that there are thirteen thousand, five hundred and sixty people, sixty years and older, living in Belize. And that number is expected to increase by four percent in the year 2025.

However, as the population of senior citizens grow, so have the attacks against the elderly. The attack on Mr. Pike was just one of several that have been occurring since November. On November second, sixty-three year old Justo Jairo Perez, was bludgeoned to death at his home in San Pedro Ambergris Caye. Five months later on April third, seventy-five year old Boledo vendor, Reynaldo Keen Smith, was bludgeoned to death at his workplace. Sixteen days later, seventy-five year old Alvin Godfrey was shot in the face during a hold-up and robbery at his store. A month later, Godfrey died.

Although the crimes against the elderly have been horrendous, it is not really among the many issues discussed concerning senior citizens.

Lindy Jeffrey

“Not as much as we would like. Actually this morning we’re running a workshop on home health care, but we’re discussing case scenarios, of which one is about an elderly woman in her home that falls victim to an intruder. And this is something that everybody recognizes, that happens time and time again. People living in houses that they don’t shut their doors properly, people just come in to see if there is anything in the house that they can take. And unfortunately, sometimes elderly people get beaten when they try to resist in some way.”

Helpage Project Officer, Lindy Jeffrey, says it will take community participation to protect the lives of senior citizens. The issue was discussed at this morning’s workshop on home healthcare for the elderly.

Lindy Jeffrey

“It’s actually getting the community together. What we’re trying to do this morning is to look at forming a network of concerned bodies of people that can keep an eye on older people. But we need to extend that into the community to make more people aware of who is a vulnerable person in your neighbourhood, what can you do to assist them, what can you do to make sure they are not in a position where people can take advantage of them.”

Meanwhile, authorities told News 5 that the men arrested in connection with Pike’s attack will now be charged with his murder.

Although the police have made arrests in all these recent cases, it is not certain whether anyone will be convicted. In fact, last Friday the five key suspects charged in the Perez murder were set free because the case file was not ready for prosecution, even though it had been nine months since the arrest. However, the D.P.P.’s office stated that the suspects are not off the hook and re-arresting all five young men remains a possibility.

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