Friday 7th March, 2008


Teenager Gone Bad

Mom: You make the child, not the mind

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Shivonne Depradine in a recent photograph


Family mourns slain teenager:

  • Questions where he went wrong
  • Says followed wrong friends


He wore the latest brand name clothing and sneakers.

He had a colour television set in his room.

From an early age he made frequent trips to the United States.

Even the food and snacks he ate—coming directly from the United States—were expensive.

His was a life of comfort and luxury.

But for teenager Shivonne Depradine, that seemed insufficient.

Depradine—who would have turned 17 yesterday—was instead discovered with a single gunshot wound to the back of the head at an abandoned house in Barataria on Wednesday afternoon.

The teenager, a student of El Dorado Comprehensive School, was found clad only in his boxer shorts with his hands tied behind his back.

His 19-year-old friend Jawara Yearwood, of Tacarigua, also suffered the same fate.

And a drug deal gone sour was the motive police believe led to the killings.

Depradine’s killing has left a void in the hearts of his family.

But even in their torment, they are forced to battle with questions, many of which may remain unanswered.

What went wrong

Depradine found it easy to leave his luxurious bed to sleep on a dingy mat at an abandoned house in Barataria.

Police said he also found it easy to rob weary, unsuspecting commuters making their way home at nights.

A boy—as his family admitted “wanted nothing”— has also left to them to probe what went wrong, even in their own lives.

“God alone know how I tried with him...I tired talk to him but is just bad company that turn him like that,” Depradine’s grandfather Patrick said yesterday.

Sitting in the waiting room of the Forensic Science Centre in St James, the 75-year-old man was visibly disturbed by his grandson’s murder.

He readily admitted, however, that the teenager’s death was a case of “friends carry you but don’t bring you back.”

“Is his friends... Is the friends he keep. I talk to him about them over and over again. But he was very harden.

“He just wanted to do his own thing,” Patrick said.

Recounting fond memories, the grandfather painted a picture of a gurgling baby boy, grown up into a wayward teenager.

“Is I mind Shivonne from a baby. I brought things from America for him. I wanted him to be comfortable.

“But where is he today?” the pensioner pondered.

Confessing that his grandson smoked marijuana, Patrick said he was not surprised by his slaying.

“There was even a time when he just did not want to go to school,” Patrick said.

And what role did the teenager’s father play in his life?

“Don’t even ask about that man,” was Patrick’s stern response.

Mom: No regrets living in US

Wanting to provide a life that perhaps she never had, Depradine’s mother, Erica, has made many sacrifices for her son to be happy.

Living in America for several years, Erica’s time with her son was sacrificed.

But, as she justified, it was all in an effort to “provide him with the best.”

“The things Shivonne had, I never had them as a child.

“I never wore a brand name sneakers yet,” Erica, also the mother of a five-year-old girl, said.

But did the sacrifices she made indirectly contribute to her son’s delinquent behaviour?

“I am not the first and I will not be the last,” Erica said, speaking from her Arouca home.

“Many parents went away and their children came out good.

“You can make the child but not the mind.”

As she stood in her front porch, the open door behind gave a peek of a well-decorated abode.

Gold-toned drapes swept gently over thick carpeting lined with cosy sofas filled with stuffed toys.

“Even if I was here, whatever Shivonne wanted to do he would have done it anyway,” Erica said.

Left with ruined birthday plans, she said she wanted her son to blow out the candles on his birthday cake with his little sister.

“Whatever Shivonne’s heart desired I would have bought it for him for his birthday,” she said.

What residents said

Shivonne Depradine was known to the community of Dinsley Gardens.

But his fame was not for sporting activities or academic achievements.

Rather, the teenager was known for cursing elderly people, throwing bottles in the road, refusing walk on the pavement to allow cars to pass and openly smoking narcotics, residents said.

A resident said the teenager was also close friends with Yearwood and three other young men.

“Five of them used to dress in black with red bandanas over their heads.

“They moved in a clip and boasted that they were not afraid of anything or anybody,” the resident said.

He said Depradine also had a reputation of returning home late at nights and cursing his grandfather.

“Two weeks ago I talk to Shivonne and he tell me he join a mosque,” the resident said.

“He tell me he staying somewhere in Nelson Street (Port-of-Spain) and he said he was not afraid of the bad boys there.”

Saying that his warnings went unheeded, the resident said Shivonne was also seen smoking marijuana while in his school uniform.

“When I talk to him, he and his friends would just laugh,” he said.

Killed by own gun

The gun that killed Depradine and Yearwood belonged to the teenagers, police said yesterday.

Investigators said they believed that the young men were in the company of two other men when they were ambushed by men believed to be known to them.

Depradine and Yearwood were left behind to face the killers as their accomplices fled through the back door.

And the abandoned house where the bodies were found, perhaps told of a tale of the thug life.

A crude drawing of a gun with its rounds beings discharged, obscenities directed at the police and the motto “Live for everything, die for nothing” were spotted on the dirty walls.

Without windows, doors or proper flooring, the house, police said, was often used by young criminals to store loot.

“But when they bring their stolen goods in the house people used to thief it from them,” an investigator said.

“God alone know how I tried with him...I tired talk to him but is just bad company that turn him like that.”

—Patrick, grandfather of slain teenager

Graffiti seen on the wall of the abandoned house where Shivonne Depradine and his friend Jawara Yearwood were found shot to death on Wednesday.