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Maria Bradshaw


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FIVE?WEEKS?after murder accused Renaco Callender died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), his family had to call off plans to bury him this week because the body has not been released to them.
Callender, 21, who had been accused of killing entertainer Irvin Fatman Weekes last October 7, died on February 8 after undergoing emergency treatment at the QEH.
Members of his grieving family said they were informed that Callender was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but they charged that he remained untreated at the Dodds Prison for a bullet wound to the left leg, sustained on the same night Weekes was shot.
Speaking to the DAILY?NATION yesterday at the Callender home in Barbarees Gardens, Barbarees Hill, St Michael, his grandmother, 54-year-old Maureen Callender, godmother Michelle Belgrave and cousin Nyoka Edwards expressed frustration at not being able to bury their loved one and at not getting the answers they were seeking about his death.
“We heard that the autopsy took place last week Tuesday so we went ahead and made arrangements to bury him this week on Wednesday.
“Everybody get off days to attend the funeral. We had everything planned but the funeral director called me this morning and said to call off the funeral because the body still has not been handed over,” said a visibly upset Callender.
The grieving family explained that he sustained a gunshot wound to the left leg on the night he was accused of shooting Weekes, who was caught in the crossfire of a shootout.
Edwards said she took him to the hospital that same night to be treated for the bullet wound.
The family said Renaco got progressively worse in prison.
“I visited him often at the prison and on court dates at the court. I noticed that his foot was swelling and he told me his stomach was swelling too. He told me he was supposed to go to the hospital to get it checked,” said a distraught Edwards.
“One day I see him come to court real vex and when he walking back to the cell, he told me that he was in real pain and his foot hurting bad.
“I went to a prison officer and ask him what wrong with Renaco foot and he told me they took Renaco to the hospital four times and he was supposed to be admitted but the hospital did not have any space.”
And it was while on a visit to the prison that his godmother got really concerned when she was informed he was in the medical facility at the prison and was unable to see visitors.
Belgrave said they immediately contacted a lawyer who wrote the prison asking that the family be allowed to take Renaco to a private doctor to be treated. The permission was granted and she went with him to the doctor.
“The private doctor said the bullet had moved but it was still inside him and a bone was resting on his kidney. He said he would have to have surgery immediately. He gave me a letter to take to the hospital and also gave the prison officer who was with Renaco a letter to take to the prison,” she explained.
However, she said when she visited the Records Department the next day, she was informed that the letter would have to come from the prison in order for Renaco to be admitted.
“I called the prison every day but the letter from the prison never reached the hospital until two weeks later,” she charged, pointing out that Renaco was finally admitted on January 29, a day after the letter was submitted to the hospital.
Belgrave said after carrying out various tests, the doctors informed them that Renaco had cancer.
“The doctors told us that he had colorectal cancer [colon cancer],” Belgrave added.
“Renako told me that the doctors were doing further tests and he had to undergo two procedures, including a biopsy. The doctors said the cancer was very aggressive and that it had spread to his lungs,” she recalled.
Pointing out that she did not believe Renaco had cancer, Callender charged that her grandson was neglected.
The family said after the death they called the prison asking if they could get the body to bury.
“They told us that we would have to write the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“I wrote the letter and took it there myself and [an official] called me and told me that they had sent a letter to the prison and the prison would have to hand over the body to me.
“I wrote a letter to the superintendent and this is five weeks and four days that Renaco dead and we have not heard anything.”
When contacted, an official at the prison said the body had been handed over to the family but the coroner had ordered that an autopsy be carried out.
Last night, in response to questioning from the DAILY NATION, Superintendent of Prisons Lieutenant Colonel John Nurse said: “I have no knowledge of any of that.”