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Children held for fire attack on homeless man in Jamaica

November 01 2010
Attack on sleeping man was one of a number in kingston

Over recent issues, The Pavement has charted the worrying and sickening rise in attacks on homeless people, particularly in the US. From the eight in 10 rough sleepers in America who have been victims of crime (you can search our website for these archive stories), to Ralph Millward, who was killed by three teenagers on our own streets, it seems homeless people across the world are increasingly becoming targets of violence. In the US, laws are even being passed to classify such attacks as hate crimes.

But, inevitably, such incidents are not confined to the US or UK. In Jamaica, three children were recently remanded in custody following the death of a homeless man who was set on fire.

According to reports in the Jamaica Observer, Lionel Maitland, 54, was asleep on The Pavement outside a supermarket in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 11 September when the horrific attack took place.

One of the three children, aged 13, was charged with murder, while the remaining two - plus two others who were charged but instead held at a children's home - were charged as "uncontrollable juveniles". Their ages range between eight and 12.

All but one of their parents were also remanded after being charged with child neglect. Both the children and adults were scheduled to reappear at the Montego Bay Family Court on 6 October.

Following the attack, Mr Maitland - who is reported to have had mental health issues - was taken to the Cornwall Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A post mortem later revealed that he died from severe burns.

As with similar incidents in the UK, the attack doesn't appear to be a one off. Earlier this year, for example, the Jamaica Observer received reports of a gang of 10-16 young people beating up homeless and mentally-ill people at night in Kingston, and sometimes setting fire to them or their cardboard boxes.

However, the incident has provoked at least one call for more to be done to help the homeless in Jamaica with Joy Crooks, the administrator for the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI) in Montego Bay, reportedly blasting the government's provision of mental health care for the homeless.