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A Life Of Crime: Cries From A Victim

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Dr Mike Neville

DR Mike Neville, a respected forensic psychiatrist, has been leading a weekly series in The Tribune designed to inform an evidence-based national debate on how to solve the escalating levels of crime in the Bahamas.

On the night of February 27, Dr Neville’s youngest son Sean, a father of a six-year-old daughter, was shot dead yards from the family home.

In a searingly personal account he describes the agony of and anger at such a shocking loss, the impact on his family – and expresses hope that the outpouring of compassion can be used to reinvigorate the fight against the scourge of killings and serious crime.

Illustration by Jamaal Rolle

MERE words cannot describe the agony that I have felt over the past few weeks. The loss of my son, Sean, has been unbearable.

All too often, I have been told: “You do not understand crime, if it happened to you you would think differently”.

I do not know yet if I will think any differently, but nothing could have prepared me for the depth of pain and despair that coursed through my veins. That fateful night our lives changed for ever.

I expected the anger and it springs into my body like venom; I feel like lashing out at anything and, of course, it is invariably at some little insignificance that does not deserve my rage. I can certainly understand how many of us are tempted to reach out for revenge and retribution at this desolate time.

I have also been reminded how many fathers and families have walked this same road over the past years. Their kind words and hugs are of great comfort as they are still struggling with this same desolation but it also magnifies the horror that we have all allowed this country to drift into. Each murder impacts so many; so many friends and family feel the same stab to the heart which, with each murder, kills a little bit of our very self.

When I saw Sean’s body lifeless in the road by my house, a sense of dread and a sort of numbness invaded my soul. It has not passed but, at times, gets pushed aside by my rage.

That night I felt that I was treated with callous indifference by our police, who swarmed the scene. I am not sure what they thought of me, but I was escorted away; I just wanted to be able to see my son a little longer. It is a crime scene, they said. But my rage boiled over when the media were escorted in for a “press conference” over my son’s lifeless body. As I reflect, I realise that the police are victims as well; each day they are exposed to murder and mayhem, they have to see and deal with tragedy beyond our comprehension.

It is inevitable that their minds have become hardened. It is easier for them to believe that we are all bad - “it is just bad people killing bad people”. This lessens their pain and gives the rest of us a false sense of security that somehow we will be safe. This is not confined to the police, with even a number of our acquaintances searching for sinister connections.

There are many good policemen and, of course, some bad apples and in the anger of death it is easy to see them all as bad. I do know, however, with complete certainty and sincerity that unless the police are part of the community and the community is part of the police we cannot progress; and if we continue down this unchanging road more officers will become victims as they lose their very humanity that we the community so desperately need.

The person who hid in the street by my house to ambush Sean and whoever may have helped with this cowardly and callous attack will become victims too. He may not realise it yet, but driven by his own jealous insecurities or just carrying on the way he has been led to believe he is entitled to act, his life changed that day.

He may still feel full of the temporary power that killing has given him, but hiding and shooting is but a pathetic pretence of power, which will pass; as sure as day turns to night and night turns to day he has condemned himself to losing his own chance of love. He has condemned himself to a life of looking over his shoulder or languishing in prison unable to share in the growth of his children and a family of his own. He has certainly failed as he can never rob all the people that loved Sean so much of all their wonderful memories.

In the midst of this nightmare a beacon of light has been shining on us, a beacon that we need to shine on the whole land. The outpouring of love and compassion has been amazing. The offers of help are overwhelming and the number of kind acts that were performed around us as we walked in our daze demonstrate the true Bahamas, that place of family, kindness and compassion that attracted me to The Bahamas all those years ago.

It has been a great comfort that so many people from so many walks of life really loved Sean; I have so many wonderful memories of him. The great athlete who represented The Bahamas at a number of sports. A great leader who was gifted at all he did. The entrepreneur who was building his own business as a contractor already successful due to his abilities and determined work ethic, described as the best boss ever by his construction team.

He had many projects completed and many on the way; he was surely destined to help build the new Bahamas. I mostly want to remember the loving son and dedicated father who brought us all so much joy with his love and humour. In 31 short years, he achieved more than I have in my lifetime; I and all his family and friends can cling on to those memories.

I want to thank so many folk from near and far that have helped us, so so many people told us how much he touched their lives, so many found Sean to be an inspiration to them.

I ask perhaps the impossible from all those kind offers of help; how can we harness the love and compassion that I have seen and felt these past few weeks; how can we slowly and methodically start to turn this tide of sickness? It must be time to push aside our tired complacency and reinvigorate our efforts.

I and so many other families will walk in this shadow of death for the rest of our lives, we must find a pathway of light to at least reduce the number of fathers and families forced to make this journey of desolation. I ask for your help in joining this discourse, not just to talk but to put in place small but proven effective programmes that may slowly turn this tide of destruction.

DR Mike Neville has spent 40 years - the majority in The Bahamas - working in the hospitals, courts and prisons at close quarters with offenders. Week by week, in a series entitled A Life of Crime, Dr Neville is examining the causes, effects and potential remedies of crime, from the cradle to the grave, looking at the reasons behind the increasing catalogue of murders, shootings, armed robberies and sexual assaults. And we want you to be involved. Every Tuesday, you can comment on his articles in The Tribune and - resuming next week - call in to an hour’s live phone-in on KISS FM96.1. Dr Neville will welcome views – unconventional, challenging and supportive – from everyone. Join the discussions via comments on tribune242.com or email to lifeofcrime@tribunemedia.net today.

Comments

outlier 4 years, 6 months ago

I thank Dr.Neville for this touching tribute to his son Sean and for sharing his personal loss with the many readers of The Nassau Tribune.

The pen will always be mightier than the sword.

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 6 months ago

Dr. Neville I can only imagine your pain. I am so sorry for what happened to your son and all the other young men who lose their lives to violence. I do not how what can be done about it. but I hope and pray something is done soon. no one deserves all of this pain and loss.

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banker 4 years, 6 months ago

I honour your courage in carrying on with this series in spite of the murder of your son.

The solutions to this scourge of crime visiting upon this archipelago in the sun must be found and realised.

Peace.

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themessenger 4 years, 6 months ago

Bahamas,here is a shining example of what courage and selflessness truly are. May God bless you and your family Sir and bring you peace,

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 6 months ago

The murderer of this man's son is very likely: the product of a broken family unable to meet it financial needs; the product of a D minus public education system; the product of a dysfunctional society cowered by an overwhelming fear of violent crime where individuals all too often measure the success of themselves by the value of their material possessions as opposed to their respect for moral values (moral values which never stood a chance of being taught by and learned from others); the product of an economic system that harshly treats and victimizes the less fortunate amongst us creating destructively low self-esteem; etc. etc. Truth be told, successive Christie and Ingraham led governments have contributed much to the depraved environment in which so many of us now live and in which new murderers are made each day and are even able to thrive at their most violent of trades (the taking of the lives of others) thanks to our grossly mismanaged and corrupt legal system. The seed for such violence was planted during LOP's love affair with Colombian drug traffickers in the 1980's and it has been well nourished as it morphed into other forms of moral decay in our society thanks in large part to the failed policies and rampant corruption within successive Christie and Ingraham led governments. Small wonder Bahamian families fortunate enough to be able to do so strongly encourage their children to go, live and stay abroad. THE BUCK ALWAYS RIGHTFULLY AND DESERVEDLY STOPS WITH CHRISTIE WHEN IT COMES TO THE EVER INCREASING SCOURGE OF VIOLENT CRIMES DEVOURING OUR SOCIETY TODAY!

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Economist 4 years, 6 months ago

I cannot begin to imagine the pain that Dr. Neville must be experiencing and e has my deepest sympathies.

I hope that we, as a people, will use the death of this fine young Bahamian to start the very long road that we must walk if we are to tackle the ills of our society.

We must look at ALL the causes, as it is not just a policing matter. Much starts with the POLITICIANS. To often THEY PUBLICALLY FAIL TO FOLLOW THE LAW. The failure to file their personal finances is a glaring example.

We do not make them, or anyone, accountable, "I don't want to get involved", "I don't want to be victimized", "I scared".

We must accept that we BAHAMIANS have to STOP BEING COWARDS. It is not someone else's problem, this is our problem. We must take a stand.

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Mayaguana34 4 years, 6 months ago

My condolences. Blessing and strength!

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jackbnimble 4 years, 6 months ago

A poignant article indeed. I read this in yesterday's paper with tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing Dr. Neville. I cannot phantom your pain but pray that God sees you and your family through this tough time and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

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bahamian242 4 years, 6 months ago

Dr. Neville hit right on the head about the Police! They look at everyone as being "BAD" and everyone is a criminal, and are out to get them!

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hurricane 4 years, 6 months ago

At first I saw the headlines and thought to myself...blah, just another elite getting public airtime since he experienced a loss. Then I decided to read it in full...I was deeply moved. The pain he and his family are goinging through must be truly unbearable.

The good doc is exactly right, you cannot afford to be complacent amongst this scorn of incessant violence. Every Bahamain that is good and decent should demand change...and immediately.

I am a Bahamian living abroad. I would love so badly to come visit my beloved home but I am afraid of the voilence appears to be getting worse each year. I am truly sad for the Bahamas. This is not the place I grew up in. I am actually embarassed as well...and even hesistate to even recommend the Bahamas as a vacation destination.

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Raptor22 4 years, 2 months ago

Sean, you live on in the hearts of many who love and admire you, and always will...gone too soon but never forgotten. You are with God now . Heartfelt condolences to the good Doctor and his wife and family.

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