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Slain prison officer helped inmates

By Cecily Asson Tuesday, June 24 2014

AS RELATIVES of prison officer Dominic Allan Bernard, 37, struggle to accept his killing a week ago, grieving sister Cheryl Ann Andrews Harris could only sum up his untimely death in one way at his funeral service yesterday.

“Sometimes bad things happen to good people,” Andrews-Harris said during her tearful eulogy at the First Church of the Open Bible, Ruth Avenue, San Fernando. “We see this everyday and some say it is a curse on the land.”

She warned that even in their grief, no one should judge even as they seek healing and justice. While there is room for forgiveness, she said, no one must forget the circumstances under which Bernard, described by his seniors as an “honoured officer”, lost his life. According to a police report, on June 15, Bernard of Jack Street, Marabella was visiting his girlfriend, a prison officer recruit, at an apartment at Petra Avenue, Plaisance Park, Pointe-a-Pierre when an altercation with a man occurred. Police said Bernard was stabbed twice, once in the chest and back. The man surrendered at the St Margaret’s Police Station and appeared in court yesterday charged with murder.

Bernard’s mother, Patricia, friends and colleagues wept as the officer with 18 years in the service was praised.

Andrews-Harris said her brother, who worked at the Maximum Security Prison, Arouca, was dedicated to the service of others and it was a passion that drove him to be the best he could be at his job.

Bernard began studies for a degree in criminal justice at College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of TT (COSTAAT).

“He chose the area of criminal justice because he wanted to help the inmates,” she said. “He would treat them just as he would treat any member of his family.”

“His 37 years was not lived in vain,” she continued. “His purpose for leaving us so soon, only his Father in heaven knows.”

Bernard’s “batch mate”, female prison officer Farrow remembered him as “diligent and hardworking” and a man “who took his job seriously.” “He enrolled as a student in criminal justice because he wanted to achieve his goal.”

COSTAAT lecturer Kevin Peters said Bernard maintained a grade point average of 3.36.

“A perfect score is four,” Peters said. “He was intelligent and disciplined.” His colleagues who were also enrolled in the programme promised to dedicate their degree to his memory.

Snr Supt Pulchan, who expressed condolences on behalf of the Prisons Service, revealed Bernard was the fifth officer to die “in the space of two weeks.”

“Gone too young, too soon, “Pulchan said. “The (prisons) service is in a state of mourning, a feeling we can’t get accustomed too.”

Pastor Keith Simmons reminded mourners that death was the “great equaliser” and called on them to take a closer look at how they lived their lives.

“If you were to die now, the only thing that would matter is if you have a right relationship with God. I have never seen a man and his Lexus or his Mercedes Benz in the same grave,” he said. In giving back something to society, Simmons called on men to mentor youths as there are “fatherless young men walking the streets in our society who need fathering.”

Following the two-hour service, Bernard was buried under full military rites at the Marabella Public Cemetery, Southern Main Road, Marabella.

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