Bartica tragedy: Family says woman was abused

- husband had threatened to burn down house

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The family of 48-year-old Carolina Kennedy pleaded with her to leave her abusive husband for years but she did not heed their advice. The man, Kenford Downer known as ‘Tallman’, set fire to the couple’s house at Four Miles Squatting Area, Bartica on Saturday last while Kennedy and their two daughters, five-year-old Mariana Downer and three-year-old Gabriella Kennedy were sleeping.

The skeletal remains of the woman and the children were discovered inside the small wooden house after the fire. The community remains disturbed and shocked at the incident.

Relatives told the News Room that the suspect only recently threatened to burn the house after he accused Carolina of having an affair.

“Since last week Thursday he told her he is going to burn down the house and kill she and she didn’t go to the station and when you hear, that is what he did,” Carolina’s sister, Gwenette Kennedy told the News Room on Monday.

According to Kennedy, her sister was physically and verbally abused by Downer for years and about a year ago, he assaulted her and broke her arm. He was jailed for a couple of months, but Gwenette said after he was released, her sister rekindled the relationship.

An official goes through the remains at the scene following the fire

“That boy break her hand, burst up her eye and she send him in jail and when he come out, she go back with him. He does abuse her and she does still go back with he,” Gwenette related.

Gwenette said while Downer was imprisoned, Carolina eventually got married to someone else and moved to Georgetown.

“I am her big sister and I does talk to she and she don’t listen and the man is like them junkie,” Gwenette said.

The News Room understands that the couple has been in and out of the relationship for the past five years.

“He catch her taking on the phone with somebody and he said that is why he do that.”

Gwenette further revealed that the suspect was also abusive to other family members; she claimed he was arrested while on the way to her mother’s house and said he wanted to harm her after killing his family.

Gwenette also alleged that hours before setting the house on fire, Downer confronted her mother.

“….he went and curse my mother and go to push her off of the verandah; I’ts her grandson save her,” Gwenette said.

She said prior to the incident on Saturday, the suspect never harmed his daughters.

“It’s his own children and that is what break my heart, it hurt me so bad because them children innocent, he didn’t had to kill them,” Gwenette said.

The family believes that Carolina and the two girls were killed before Downer set the house on fire.

“She got neighbours and them ain’t hear nothing, so I don’t understand how he do this thing so easy, is like he kill she and kill the children and then burn down the house,” Gwenette said.

A post mortem examination conducted on the remains on Monday revealed that they were burnt to death.  Downer, who also received burns on his feet, remains hospitalised under police guard.

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