ECHOES OF LIAM - THE SAD DEATH OF YOUNG NEW ZEALANDER, LIAM ASHLEY IN 2006. R.I.P.
The following story was written and posted on now defunct blogsites in 2006. It was one of the saddest stories I have ever written about.
A most tragic case of parents tough love gone so sadly wrong - their youngest son loses his life!
A 17 yr old Auckland, New Zealand,youth was facing a charge of unlawfully converting his mother's car. His parents decided albeit wisely or unwisely, to try and teach their youngest son some responsibility for his actions. They persuaded the District Court judge to remand him in custody and enable him to gain some first hand knowledge of the justice system - a little time at the coalface, if you like!
The youth, named Liam Ashley, was transported from the court with 13 other remand prisoners in a private security company's van which was divided into four compartments - there has not yet any reason given to why the Corrections Department did not transport the prisoners to the remand prison - and Liam was put into one of the compartments with two other men, one of whom was a violent gang member with a string of 80 convictions behind him.
That man has now been arrested for Liam's death after allegedly beating and strangling the youth to death with his handcuffs on the way to the remand prison.
The 25 yr old man is understood to be a member of a notorious local gang with convictions for firearms offences, escaping from custody and aggravated robbery.
His last court appearance which resulted in him being in the same security van as young Liam, was for aggravated robbery and wounding with intent, and had to be accompanied to court by four armed guards because of his violent history and unpredictability.
How on earth was the youth, who has had no previous offences,placed with such a felon?
The devastated family find the situation that led to their son's death, untenable, intolerable and unacceptable under any circumstances, and obviously negligent. They, too,wonder just how their son could have been placed in the van with such a person.They do not need any reminding that it was their initial decision to have their son put into custody, when he could have been bailed.
When the van had arrived at the remand prison Liam had not been breathing. Ambulance officers managed to resuscitate him, but such was the severity of his subsequent brain damage the family later had his life support turned off.
A post mortem established the cause of death and an enquiry will be held to determine why Liam was put in the van with such a violent prisoner.
A devastated family continues to grieve for the death of their youngest son in such circumstances.
The prisoner has now been officially charged with the murder of the youth who had his own challenges; he was an at risk youth who had been assessed with ADHD earlier in his young life, something that undoubtably created its own difficulties.
Updates to the story:
The prisoner was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. An appeal aganst his sentence was denied in 2007.
Young Liam's sad death has resulted in a number of changes to the transportation of prisoners in New Zealand. The private company previously involved has not had its contract extended. The Corrections Department itself will assume this role in future, as was done back in the days of the old Prison Service.
Prisoners will be manacled while being transported in future.
Nothing will bring young Liam back,but let's hope his death was not all in vain. The changes that have been made by the NZ Corrections Department should ensure that the situation that led up to Liam's death will not be able to be repeated.
Even in retrospect,I don't blame Liam's mother for the decision she made; it was made out of love and concern for her at risk young son.
My Write Niche