Mother walks free of charges for setting daughter on fire

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By Latrishka Thomas

Nicola ‘Nikki’ Pitter who was charged with attempted murder for setting her daughter on fire was freed of the charges levied against her in 2016.
Yesterday, Pitter appeared before Justice Stanley John in the High Court of Justice where the prosecution revealed the results of her psychological evaluation.


The psychiatric report by Doctor Philmore Benjamin concluded that Pitter was in fact suffering from postpartum psychosis at the time of the incident.
Postpartum psychosis is a rare but serious mental health illness that can affect a woman soon after she has had a baby.


This illness was a substantive cause for the prosecution to withdraw the attempted murder charge.


On New Year’s Day 2016, Pitter reportedly doused her daughter, Shaveesa Gasper, who was 16 years old at the time, with an accelerant and set her on fire after she tried to prevent her mother from setting her young baby on fire.


Gasper, the 2015 Scotia Bank/Source Teen Explosion Competition winner, subsequently suffered second and third degree burns to a significant portion of her body, to include her face and back and had to be airlifted
to the neighbouring French island of Guadeloupe for treatment.


She received further medical care in Paris over a six-month period.
Up to 10 months after the incident, Pitter had not been charged for the offence due to her daughter’s intervention. However, on October 5th a group – Friends and Supporters of Shaveesa Gasper – wrote a letter to the United Progressive Party (UPP) Caretaker for St George, George Whener about the lack of progress in the investigation.


The letter was signed by head of the support group, Zahra Airall, who was also a teacher at Gasper’s school at the time – the Antigua Girls’ High School (AGHS) —and Deputy Principal Marlene Fearon.


The correspondence which was carbon copied to Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Anthony Armstrong and the Parliamentary Representative for St. George, Dean Jonas, read: “Gasper gave a written statement confirming her ordeal …to date, Ms. Pitter has not been arrested or charged with any criminal offence. Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done. We are most alarmed at the current state of affairs, as it appears that Miss Gasper is being denied justice through the inaction of the [police].”


New Winthorpes woman was said to have been taken into custody and charged with attempted murder less than 72 hours later.

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