BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 19, 2016–On the night of March 30, 2016, Gardenia mechanic Dean Dawson, Sr., 45, lost his life in a horrific road traffic accident when he was mowed down by an Isuzu D-Max pickup truck that was heading towards Ladyville from Orange Walk. The accident occurred between Miles 22 and 23 on the Philip Goldson Highway, as Dorian Pakeman, the director of the Government Press Office, was making his way home to Ladyville in the government vehicle. Dawson was riding his bicycle on the highway when he was knocked down.
A lot has happened between the time of the accident and now, but Pakeman has not been made to answer for the accident which claimed Dawson’s life.
Today, Monday, Amandala asked Director of Public Prosecution Cheryl-Lynn Vidal about the status of the police’s investigation of the Pakeman accident. DPP Vidal told us that she is still waiting for the police investigators to comply with requests that she had made. The file was sent back to the DPP’s office without the completion of what she had requested, so the DPP sent it back to the police so they could comply. That was several weeks ago. DPP Vidal told Amandala that Pakeman would be charged as soon as the police comply with her request.
Amandala also spoke to the Commanding Officer of Belize Rural Eastern Division, Assistant Commissioner of Police Edward Broaster, who referred us to Assistant Superintendent Juanito Cocom, the Commander of Ladyville Police, and the officer who was the host of a police press briefing the day after the accident.
It was during that press conference that the media was told that a blood sample was taken from Dawson and was sent to the lab for analysis. It was also during that press conference, less than 24 hours after that accident that ASP Cocom declared: “There were no eyewitnesses to the accident…” Then in a strange twist, ASP Cocom added, “As the investigation unfolded, apparently, Mr. Dorian did not have the fault of the accident.”
Amandala challenged ASP Cocom at the briefing on his singular conclusion that, “Mr. Dorian did not have the fault of the accident,” to which he responded, saying, “That would be dealt with in court.”
As time went on, we learned that the blood sample that was taken from Dawson’s body had been tampered with, when someone, who wanted to paint the picture that he was drunk, decided to pour an alcoholic drink into the blood sample, thus rendering the sample unusable.
Police have not held anyone responsible, as far as we can tell, for tampering with Dawson’s blood sample. Amandala had pointed out to ACP Broaster that the chain of custody for the blood sample was simple to follow. We had also asked ASP Cocom when he thinks the file will be ready to be sent back to the DPP, so the charges can be brought against Mr. Pakeman. Cocom replied that it is not the DPP who will lay the charges — “it is us (the police), after she advises us,” he said.
Cocom, when pressed further as to when the police will complete the file, replied, “I can’t give you a definite time.”
“But, sir, the accident happened almost one year now. Why, is an accident investigation taking so long, and this file keeps going back and forth between your office and the DPP’s office?” Amandala asked the Assistant Superintendent of Police.
“That is the process, Mr. Parks. You are very demanding and I don’t work for any press. I don’t want to be rude, but I work for the police,” ASP Cocom retorted.
ASP Cocom further remarked, “You are acting like I am answerable to you. I am not answerable to you.”
The ASP then added, “It will be very soon. We just have two more things on that file.”
“Sir, can you break down ‘very soon’ in terms of chronological time,” Amandala asked ASP Cocom.
“I will not give you a chronological time, because I don’t want my name… but I am doing my work,” ASP Cocom replied.
In September, ACP Broaster had also revealed that Pakeman had tested positive for cocaine in his blood.
After that revelation, Prime Minister Dean Barrow suspended him from the Government Press Office. The suspension was reportedly without pay.
Amandala also spoke to Therese Abraham, Dawson’s common-law wife and the mother of 3 of his 10 children. She told us that on the night after the accident, police did not take Pakeman into custody, but allowed him to be transported to Ladyville by United Democratic stalwart Juliet Timbrel, in whose vehicle he continued the journey to the police station.
Abraham said that Dawson could not have been drinking, because he was on days off from work and was taking medication.
“Pakeman lied when he told police that Dean was traveling in the same direction as he was,” Abraham said.
Abraham said Dawson was on his way to Crooked Tree to take money to purchase food for his children.
“That vehicle hit Dean so hard that almost every bone in his body was broken,” said Abraham, who arrived on the scene along with Dawson’s sons, minutes after the accident.