Royal Cayman Islands Police said Friday that officers will not pursue a criminal case in connection with the June death of a morbidly obese 13-year-old boy at George Town hospital.
‘(The RCIPS) Criminal Investigation Department has completed its investigation and no evidence has been found to suggest any criminal wrong-doing,’ said Detective-Sergeant Lauriston Burton. ‘The file will now be passed to the coroner for review and ruling.’
Although no formal ruling has been made by a coroner, doctors at the Health Service’s Authority said in June that the teen’s death could be the first case in the Cayman Islands where obesity played a role in a child’s passing.
One physician called the boy’s death ‘disastrous.’
‘But maybe, at the end of the day, some good can come out of this case if other people take note,’ Dr. Marilyn McIntyre said in June. Dr. McIntyre had treated the child for his condition until he reached the age of 12.
The boy, who previously attended Cayman’s Lighthouse School, has not been identified as per the editorial policy of the Caymanian Compass.
Police enquiries into the case focused on whether any other factors might have led to the 13-year-old’s untimely death. According to Department of Children and Family Services Director Deanna Look Loy, childhood obesity can not be considered a crime under the Children’s Law.
RCIPS commanders said efforts would be made in the future by police to quickly identify cases where children might in at risk situations.
‘We are preparing procedures and processes to ensure a closer working relationship with our partner agencies, such as education (department) and social services,’ RCIPS Superintendent Marlon Bodden said.
The Caymanian Compass has learned the teen was approved for free medical care by the Department of Children and Family Services in 2007 and 2008 due to his condition.
‘That would indicate that we wanted certain things to be taken care of for him,’ said Children and Family Services Social Work Manager Leanora Winter-Young. ‘We’ve been involved for quite some time.’
‘I’ve never seen anything of this nature get to this level,’ Mrs. Winter-Young said in June, referring to the situation with the 13-year-old Lighthouse student.
Childhood obesity has been a growing concern in the Cayman Islands in recent years. A comprehensive study on the issue completed in 2008 by then-Health Services Authority Research Coordinator Laurence van Hanswijck de Jonge served to highlight the scope of the problem.
The study, which compiled more than 20 years of research, showed 31 per cent of children on Grand Cayman were obese, or were at risk of becoming obese.
On Cayman Brac, the numbers were even worse with some 40 per cent of children on the Island identified as either obese or at risk of becoming so.
‘Cayman has its share of malnutrition,’ Mrs. Winter-Young said. ‘Only it comes out on the side of obesity, not starvation.’