Bjerkhamn back in court
BUSINESSMAN JOHAN BJERKHAMN may end up doing community service over the shooting death of his 11-year-old son Luke last year.
Magistrate Barbara Cooke-Alleyne yesterday indicated community service was one of the options she would consider in making her ruling, expected to be announced December 21 when the hearing resumes in the Holetown Magistrates’ Court.
During Bjerkhamn’s court appearance yesterday, the magistrate asked the businessman of Leslie Gardens, Maynards, St Peter, what skills he possessed, with Bjerkhamn saying he knew a lot about boating, sailing and fishing – things he had been doing “my entire life” – and was also “fully trained in construction management”.
This happened after both Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Charles Leacock, QC, and leader of the defence team, Queen’s Counsel Sir Richard Cheltenham, supported the idea of a non-custodial sentence for Bjerkhamn, with court-imposed supervision and community service.
The DPP, in an earlier court appearance, had announced withdrawal of the manslaughter charge against Bjerkhamn, saying there was no evidence pointing to reckless endangering of life or gross negligence that would substantiate it.
Bjerkhamn faces a lesser charge that he “willfully exposed” a child in his custody “in a manner likely to cause injury to his health”.
According to police reports, Bjerkhamn, a gun dealer, was shot in the left hand and his son was hit in the chest when a .380 Glock semi-automatic pistol the father was cleaning at his St Peter residence went off, firing a single bullet.
Sir Richard yesterday ruled out probation, saying Bjerkhamn was no threat to himself or the public, neither was he “on any troubled path”.
For the businessman, he recommended continued psychological and psychiatric care, which he said might have to be under “a form of supervision”.
He also held out community service “as a gentle deterrent, a reminder to parents that we cannot be too careful” in taking care of children.
He also suggested that Bjerkhamn work with youths or elderly people, or both, in any community service programme ordered by the court. He said Bjerkhamn had skills and experience which would help both age groups.
He also called for the modernizing of the law under which Bjerkhamn is being tried, saying it had “escaped the attention of the law reformers”.
The law provides for a fine of just $24 for offenders, he pointed out. Given today’s money value, such a fine would be regarded as “derisory”, Sir Richard commented.
Leacock said the monetary penalty was “not on issue” in this case. (TY)