Rohan Russell, who is among two people charged in relation to the murder of his seven-year-old daughter Tianna, attended the child’s funeral yesterday and publicly made an appeal for God to protect the minor.
He and the child’s step-mother Lorraine Fletcher, who both lived at New Works district in Linstead, St. Catherine, are charged with murder.
It is understood that the two were offered bail in relation to the murder charge, which was laid after a post mortem showed that Tianna died of blunt-force trauma. Her body also had what cops described as “several marks suggestive of abuse”.
The child’s embattled father became the centre of attention when he showed up during the thanksgiving service, which was held at the Church of God in Christ Jesus Apostolic at Victoria district in Linstead.
When it was time for open tributes, the father walked past the pink and white casket at the entrance to the church, stood behind the wooden lectern, and told the congregation: “Greetings everyone.” The people replied.
That was followed by an unusually long pause as the father struggled to hold back tears.
His sister, Voilet Robertson, went to stand beside him.
It was then that he commenced his three-minute-long scripted speech.
Pausing every now and then, he read: “Most Eternal God, surely Tianna Russel is under your protection and in the arms of your security. You fulfill promises and grant grants, so grant her your love oh Lord. 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… I seek protection in you for her soul oh God. Most Holy One, guide her with those whom you have guided…”
The father also described Tianna as his “precious princess”.
He added: “Tianna Russel was a very gifted and special student, the giver of gifts. May God have mercy on her soul.”
The father’s sister, Robertson, in an interview with The Beacon recently, stated that she felt “real bad” about the situation.
Asked if she previously knew of Tianna being abused, she replied: “I have no idea of that, no sign to show us before that anything like that was taking place.”
She added that the entire New Works community was shocked by the incident.
“The people were sympathizing with my brother because they know he doesn’t hurt any of his children that they know of. Everyone was in shock,” Robertson said.
She also reasoned that, if her brother was aware of his child being abused, he should have taken action.
“If yuh come home and si things happening, yuh first response is that you either go to the doctor or yuh call somebody. I am the closest one [to him] because I am his only sister here and the closest family member to him,” she further told The Beacon.
In a tribute at the thanksgiving service, Robertson said: “When I think of how she (Tianna) touched my life, the first word that comes to mind was admiration… First and foremost, she 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. Even though she is gone, I hope that her legacy will live on in all of us.”
Tianna’s body was interred in a family plot containing the remains of her maternal grandparents and other maternal relatives.
Her biological mother, Claudia Francis, who passed away a few years ago due to an illness, was buried at Commodore Cemetery in Linstead.
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