EIGHT years after 14-year-old Brandon Hargreaves died at a state institution for children, and a decade after he was locked in a kennel with two dogs in Cascade, the boy’s father has been found guilty of child cruelty.
On Thursday, senior Magistrate Aden Stroude found Nigel Hargreaves guilty of wilfully exposing the then 12-year-old in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering, or injury to his health, contrary to Section 3(1) of the Children Act 46:01, when he locked him in the kennel.
Hargreaves was fined $4,000 and given 28 days to pay.
On July 18, 2012, police rescued Hargreaves, whom they found locked in a kennel with two dogs at a house at Upper Valley Road, Cascade.
The boy’s father, his stepmother Nasha Baboolal and a cousin, Kendall Baptiste, were all charged. Hargraves and Baptiste were charged with cruelty and Baboolal was charged with assault.
She was found not guilty of the charge on Thursday. Baptiste was shot and killed in Cascade in June 2019.
They were all represented by attorney Larry Williams.
In a Newsday report in 2012, police said when the boy was found he was naked, hungry and had dog bites, among other injuries. A medical report identified bite marks and scratches on the boy’s face.
At the time, investigators said the child had been stopped from attending Rosary Boys’ RC Primary School, Port of Spain, a year before they rescued him.
It was the State’s case that Brandon was accused of stealing food and as punishment, his father, helped by Baptiste, forced him into the kennel with two dogs, described as a regular hound and a pitbull. The door was nailed shut with a piece of wood.
Neighbours called the Belmont police after hearing the boy’s cries throughout the night.
The State, represented by deputy Director of Public Prosecutions George Busby, presented further evidence that when the police got to the house, Brandon was standing in the yard with a towel wrapped around his waist. Investigators saw what looked like cuts and bruises on his upper body.
The incident stunned neighbours, who, in an interview with Newsday in 2012, said they heard the boy’s screams.
“I was hearing the child saying, ‘He biting me! He biting me!’ but I didn’t immediately take it on. It was only when we were outside (in the morning), people pointed out that the boy was actually in the kennel.
"So we called the police after, and they came and met the scene as it was, and took everyone in the household to the station for questioning,” a resident told Newsday at the time.
Newsday had also been told the boy’s cries were heard on many occasions, mostly at night, but the community was shocked to discover he was in a kennel.
“It really hurt my heart to see the type of cruelty that boy was being exposed to.”
After being rescued, Hargreaves was put in the care of an aunt until the court sent him to St Michael’s School for Boys in Diego Martin.
He died there in April 2014, from a fall. The institution was shut in 2018 and there are plans to reorganise the facility to provide restorative development programmes for young boys.
At the magistrates’ court, Stroude allowed into evidence two statements Brandon gave to police before he died at St Michael’s.