By Benjamin Flowers
The Laws of Belize prohibit the Police Department from charging 21-year-old John Dawson for burning down a house and leaving seven people homeless.
According to the department, Dawson is a certified mental illness patient and is therefore not fit to be charged for destroying the home of Scotland Half-moon village resident, Denise Lodge, on January 23rd.
Officer Commanding Eastern Division Rural, Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, explained that police investigations revealed that Dawson was not following his medication regime at the time of the incident, making him prone to aggressive behaviour.
“We have spoken to the family to ensure that he takes his medication on time,” Broaster said. “One of the things we will be looking at, if we have to respond to an incident like this again, is how we can assist in getting the accused their medication on time.”
Reports are that Lodge left her home at around 6:45 p.m. and when she returned shortly after 7:00 p.m. she saw her two-bedroom wooden house engulfed in flames. The house was not insured and authorities have yet to establish a value for the loss.
Broaster added that apart from not being charged for arson, Dawson will not be charged for assaulting the two officers that were sent to detain him. Ladyville police reported that during his apprehension, Dawson injured a female and a male officer in the face.
The police along with the Ministry of Health are scheduled to hold a joint workshop in February to refresh the department’s officers on the mental health protocols developed in 2014, and to sensitize officers on the different mental disorders the may encounter in the field.