'Protect her, oh God'
LINSTEAD, St Catherine – A father charged in connection with the death of his seven-year-old daughter attended the thanksgiving service held for her on the outskirts of this town on Wednesday and delivered a tribute.
“Tianna Russell was a very gifted and special student [and] the giver of gifts,” Rohan Russell told mourners at the Church of God in Christ Jesus Apostolic in Victoria district.
“Take Tianna Russell into paradise, oh God. Protect her from all punishments. Shine your light on her, oh Most High and bless her with Your peace…” he read as his sister, Voilet Robertson, stood by his side.
She also had a speech of her own.
“Tianna was loving and kind-hearted. She brought joy and laughter into our lives and the lives of others. She absolutely adored school and made sure that any task given had to be completed. Tianna brought a lot of love to my life,” said Robertson.
Police had reported that about 1:30 am on June 28, Rohan Russell took Tianna to Linstead Public Hospital, claiming that he heard her struggling to breathe. The child was pronounced dead shortly after.
According to the police, its officers, who were summoned to the hospital, saw “several marks” on Tianna’s body. The marks were suggestive of abuse, the police said.
Ahead of a post-mortem, detectives charged Tianna’s 39-year-old father and her 27-year-old stepmother Lorraine Fletcher with child abuse. They appeared in court on July 7 and were offered bail in the sum of $300,000 each.
The autopsy eventually revealed that the seven-year-old had died from blunt-force trauma.
The child, whose mother Claudia Francis pre-deceased her by four years, had been living with her father and stepmother at New Works district in Linstead.
The father, who fought hard to hold back tears as he read his speech at the funeral, said his daughter was a “precious princess” who deserves God’s protection and a place in paradise.
One of Tianna’s former teachers, Kerry-Ann Myers, recalled the child crying for her late mother while she was enrolled at Munroe’s Love-Care Pre-School and Nursery.
“There are times in the classroom when you would see Tianna sit in her seat and she would cry and I went over and said to her, ‘Why are you crying, Tianna?’ She said to me, ‘I want my mommy.’ That is the time I realised that she lost her mommy. From that day until now, I am like a mother to her. I look out for her at all times. It doesn’t matter what circumstance or what activity we are having, I always looked out for Tianna,” the teacher said.
Tianna was buried in a pink and white coffin beside some of her mother’s relatives at Victoria district, Linstead.