Nancy Jonhson: 'Brad Boyce kill my whole family'

It has been that way since the tragic death of her second son, Jason, almost 14 years ago.

“The feeling of loss will never be put to rest. It will be there until I die,” Johnson, 55, said in an interview on Wednesday at her apartment along the Diego Martin Main Road.

“He is like a cancer inside of me. I really don’t know how I am coping with it but I am trying. I just have to try because I am living.”

Jason,19, died on September 16, 1996, at the San Fernando General Hospital, two weeks after he was allegedly struck to the head by another young man, Brad Boyce, during an altercation at the Edge nightclub, Long Circular Mall, St James.

Boyce was subsequently freed of a charge of manslaughter in a controversial decision handed down by retired High Court judge Herbert Volney.

The acquittal had sparked national outcry about the racial tensions which were said to have existed at nightclubs at that time.

On Monday, the spirit of Johnson’s dead son was awakened through Volney’s foray into the political arena as the UNC’s candidate for St Joseph in the upcoming general election.

During his debut address at George Earle Park in St Joseph, Volney was greeted by a group of placard-bearing protesters who had openly chastised his decision to free Boyce.

One of Johnson’s sons, Stephen Van Luke, 28, was photographed holding a placard during the meeting.

Although she could not say who orchestrated the protest, Johnson claimed that Van Luke was in no way involved.

“Luke’s friends talk to him and he get a little....They had known Jason, too, and they must be just came to him and he just went, yuh know, and they just give him a placard. I don’t know. I don’t want to say nothing,” she said, declining to speculate on whether the protest was politically-motivated.

Volney had accused the PNM of organising the protest.

However, PNM chairman Conrad Enill and former St Joseph MP Kennedy Swaratsingh, Volney’s opponent in the election, have both denied any involvement in the incident.

Clutching a large portrait of her bright-eyed son, Johnson told Sunday Newsday she bore no animosity toward Volney for his decision to acquit Boyce.

“I don’t want to hurt Volney,” she declared, gazing emptily ahead.

“He was the judge. But I just want justice for my son and if it takes this election to have something done for me and my family, fine.

“I don’t want to hurt Volney in any way, though he freed my son’s murderer. But I want to put a stop to it (lack of justice).”

In an almost pitiful tone, she insisted that justice had not been served and called for some form of compensation to be given to her family.

“I need compensation from somewhere to help out my children before my eyes close. Just for them and not really for me. It don’t have to be cash. It could be a house for the children. That will do,” Johnson said.

At present, Johnson said she was paying almost $4,000 a month for the apartment, located on the first floor of an apartment building which also houses a Royal Castle fast food outlet.

Her family has been living in the apartment for the past four years, she said.

Before, they had lived at Mohammed Road in Diego Martin, a short distance away.

“I have nowhere to put stuff. I have grips and different things all over the place. I can’t even find place to put whatever stuff. It is overbearing,” she said, referring to her living space at the apartment.

Apart from Johnson and her husband Stephen, the apartment is occupied by her brother-in- law Allan, son Stephen Van Luke, daughter Tanya and grand-daughter Aaliyah.

Johnson has another son, Sean, who lives on his own.

But the atmosphere in the home has generally been cold and devoid of emotion, Johnson said.

“It is a broken home. Brad Boyce killed my whole family when my son died,” she said.

Johnson admitted that she and her husband no longer shared a close, loving relationship “because it (Jason’s death) hurts.”

Stephen took to gambling, she recalled, while Van Luke and Tanya, had dropped out of their respective secondary schools and have led unfulfilling lives ever since.

“Within three months, Luke, who was 17 at the time, just told me he could not study and Tanya said the same.” To add insult to injury, Johnson said, she also developed a drinking problem.

“It knocks me out for me to sleep and sometimes, when I get up in the night, I drink again,”she said unabashedly.

For years, Black Label has been her rum of choice, she revealed.

But, Johnson was quick to point out that although she has married the alcohol with cigarettes on a daily basis, she never used illegal drugs.

The grieving housewife was adamant when told that she may need professional held to deal with her drinking.

“I don’t think I need counselling,” she said.

“I don’t want nobody talk to me because they don’t know what I am going through.”

Johnson also has not been eating regularly.

“I really don’t know how I living because I have no appetite,”she added.

Johnson recalled that Jason, who would have turned 34 this year, had exhibited an odd sign hours before the incident at the nightclub.

She said the family had gone to the Queen’s Park Savannah for the annual fireworks display on Independence night in 1996 and had returned to their Cornelius Street home in Woodbrook, before Jason, Van Luke and a cousin eventually decided to go to the Edge nightclub.

“But Jason kept putting both hands behind his head and I asked him why he was doing that?” she recalled.

Johnson’s worst fears were realised hours later when Van Luke returned home around 4 o’clock the next morning with the news that Jason was involved in an altercation at the nightclub and was warded at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.

Jason, who had slipped into a coma, was later transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital where he died.

Nicknamed “Monty,” Johnson described Jason as a sweet and loving young man who was fun to be around.

“He was very comical. Even when I didn’t want to laugh, he would make me laugh,” she said, managing a smile.

He enjoyed basketball and weightlifting, she said, but was bent on leaving his job as a casino worker to return to school.

“He was very educated,” she said of the former St Anthony’s College student.

Johnson made it clear that her son was no limer.

“He didn’t like crowds. I really don’t know how he get lick down in a party because he didn’t like to go nowhere.”

Today, a peach-coloured urn bearing Jason’s remains sits on a table in the family’s cluttered living room.

And every year, on the anniversary of his death, Johnson lights a candle, says a prayer and drifts away to sleep on a cot alongside the table.

It’s perhaps the only activity she enjoys, she said.

“I ent really give up. But, I don’t go nowhere again. I lock away from everybody. I in a world of my own.” Her surviving children, too, she informed, have also stopped enjoying life.

“At the time Jason died, I was suffering for everyone, especially my children because I know how they felt towards their brother. So, I cannot antagonise them,” Johnson said.

Johnson said since her son’s death, more than a decade ago, she had never heard from any member of the Boyce family.

“Nothing at all. Nothing, nothing, nothing,”said Johnson, adding she could not predict how she would react if one of them were to approach her.

“I may just listen to what they have to say.”


"Nancy Jonhson: ‘Brad Boyce kill my whole family’"

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