Glenn Blakeney: I did my best with Jahmel
Cabinet Minister Glenn Blakeney did his “best to provide a wholesome family environment” for his son Jahmel but “can't live his life for him”, he told
The Royal Gazette.
Mr Blakeney, during an interview with this newspaper a year ago, as his middle son was facing extradition from the US, said he was able to “speak to how a father feels when you try to do your best in being a good example and things don't turn out as they might have”.
Jahmel Blakeney, 30, an associate of the Parkside gang, was found guilty by a Supreme Court jury on Tuesday of the double shooting of rival gangster Shaki Minors and his pregnant girlfriend Renee Kuchler.
The court heard how he arranged for Parkside member Sanchey Grant to carry out the attack, which resulted in Ms Kuchler, 26, losing her unborn child.
Jahmel and Grant were both convicted of attempted murder and will be sentenced at a later date.
Father-of-five Mr Blakeney, 56, spoke to this newspaper about his criminal son during a wide-ranging interview on November 17, 2010, soon after he was appointed Youth and Families Minister.
At the time, Jahmel was in the US, where he had fled after being arrested and released on bail in connection with the shooting outside Southside Cinema of Mr Minors and Ms Kuchler.
His father's comments could not be reported while a jury trial was pending for the attempted murder.
The Minister said the situation with his son gave him “experience that a lot of my fellow Bermudians have experienced, more so than we would hope”.
He added: “There is no parent that does not wish the best for their child, especially when they are involved in hands-on upbringing. A lot of our challenges with our young people are not just single-parent family issues.
“There are families with two-parent households who have some serious challenges as well.”
Mr Blakeney, PLP MP for Devonshire North Central, described how Jahmel's life changed dramatically when he was eight, with the birth of his younger brother Glendon, known as Zeik, who has cerebral palsy.
Before that, Mr Blakeney said, the family would go to cheer Jahmel on at his football matches every Saturday and he would bring his friends home to play sports in the yard.
“We'd go fishing and do all those kinds of things that fathers do with their sons. When Zeik was born that stopped immediately without much explanation, when Jahmel was about eight years old.
“I'm not excusing that or using that as a reason or [in] any way associating it with the decisions that he's made as an adult, because he is an adult.
“We have been through our challenges and like everybody we have had our crosses to bear but no one heavier or greater than anybody else's. There is always someone else in a worse situation.”
The Minister, who has two daughters and whose eldest son is cricketer Glenn Blakeney Jr, said Zeik, 21, had to visit Boston Children's Hospital twice a year until he was an adolescent and required constant care.
“There has not been one day that either myself or his mother has not been in earshot or eyesight of him,” he said.
“Everybody loves him. He reads now and he writes, even though it's a major challenge for him, and he's one of the sweetest, nicest young men in my life. I treasure and love him to death.”
The Minister said he couldn't discuss Jahmel's “culpability” as a criminal trial was pending. He added: “I don't think, as an adult, I need to answer for my son, who is an adult.
“I would hope things would have been different in many ways, relative to maybe some of the choices he's made during the course of his life. But I can't live his life for him, nor can anyone in a similar situation.
“But you know from my experiences I can, I think, speak to how a father feels when you try to do your best in being a good example and things don't turn out as they might have otherwise.
“And especially since it was not due to a lack of effort in doing the best to prove a wholesome family environment with his mother.”
Mr Blakeney was not in court to hear the verdict on his son and has not responded to calls and e-mails from
The Royal Gazette since Tuesday.