It took 15 long years before the murder trial against two men – then boys – accused of killing Sean Luke got off the ground.
After two months of witness testimony, submissions and deliberations, the two accused were yesterday convicted for the brutal murder of little Sean.
Much like the actual crime which occurred in 2006, the verdict handed down by Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds also captivated the nation, as many showed interest, demanding justice for the little boy whose life was violently cut short at the tender age of six.
The ruling after the judge-alone trial came ten days after the conviction of a man accused of murdering four-year-old Amy Annamanthudo was quashed by the Appeal Court. That too, made yesterday’s judgement all the more significant.
And while the guilty verdict brought a sense of relief and satisfaction to citizens, the time it took for the matter to be heard cannot be ignored or excused.
The legal proceedings, which were littered with delays and setbacks, no doubt left Luke’s relatives and even the accused frustrated.
This is why it may be time to give consideration to the establishment of a special court to treat specifically with crimes against children. In Malaysia, the Criminal Court on Sexual Crimes Against Children came to fruition in 2017 to expedite hearings in such matters. If such a court were in operation here, it could have prevented such a long timespan between charges and a conviction.
According to law, because the perpetrators were juveniles when they committed the crime, they will not face the death penalty. The time they spent on remand awaiting the trial will impact their sentencing, since they will likely get that time deducted.
This would be yet another blow for Luke’s long-suffering mother, who had to endure 15 years waiting to learn the fate of those accused of snatching her son’s life away.
The trial also highlights the urgent need for counselling and attention to be provided to relatives of children who are victims of crime.
Although Luke’s mother yesterday welcomed the end to such an agonising wait, she admitted to being still haunted by her son’s murder and the possibilities about what his life could have been today. She also spoke about the number of broken promises made in the aftermath of his murder, which included construction of a safe play park for children but never materialised.
Too often the parents, siblings and loved ones of child crime victims are neglected when the story fades from the headlines.
True justice for Luke and many other children cruelly murdered in T&T would require an examination of the word meaning and to make the necessary adjustments to protect little ones from falling prey to the monsters in our society.
While it will not return Sean and others like him back to the arms of their loved ones, it perhaps would provide some comfort that things could change for the better.
Rest in love and peace Sean Luke … finally.