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Sham Court Hearing
June 28, 2007 permalink
More on the death of Matthew Reid.
Let's review. A girl is taken from mom and dad for reasons not yet published. She is placed for adoption in a forever family along with her siblings But the adoption fails after she assaults her younger sister, and she goes back to foster care. At age 14 she elopes with a man, but is soon arrested for stealing the getaway car. Children's aid treats her like a baby, putting her in a new foster home without alerting the foster family to her history of assault. Within a day she kills Matthew Reid. Now at age 15 she functions at a mental level of a six year old, a condition that could be congenital or drug-induced.
The girl has "pleaded guilty", though in normal legal practice such a plea cannot come from someone with such diminished faculties. Her parents, the crown, hired a lawyer for her who convinced her to plead. A court is now deciding whether to punish her as an adult. In doing so, it avoids the question of whether to punish the social workers as adults.
The money grabbers are not done with this case. Tony Van Schie, probation manager of youth justice services in Niagara, is maneuvering for $100,000 per year on behalf of the girl.
Mental capacity key in sentencing of teen who murdered toddler
By Amy Lazar, Standard Staff, Thursday, June 28, 2007 - 01:00
Local News - Fidgeting and unable to sit still, the 15-year-old girl awaiting her sentence for the second-degree murder of toddler Matthew Reid had a hard time paying attention in court Thursday.
The girl, whose identity is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is at the “cognitive age of six,” said Dr. Lindley Bassarath, referring to his recent interviews with her and a psychological assessment done last year.
“She can be treated, yes, but how much she can gain from the treatment is the question,” Bassarath said from the witness box in a St. Catharines courtroom.
The psychiatrist, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto and head of adolescent services at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, was the first of six experts to be called before Judge Ann Watson to provide insight into whether the girl should be sentenced as a youth or an adult.
The Crown is seeking an adult sentence.
The girl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Jan. 22, a little more than a year after three-year-old Matthew was found dead, suffocated and smeared with blood in his bedroom.
It happened the morning of Dec. 15, 2005 — less than a day after the girl arrived at the Welland home where both children were in foster care.
At the time, the girl was 14 and had lived in various foster homes before being adopted along with her biological brother and sister.
She was later removed from the home after assaulting her sister and was placed under foster care in Niagara Falls.
While in that home, she started a sexual relationship with a man and later stole her foster family’s van to meet him at a hotel room.
She was arrested and charged, and upon her release, placed in the Welland foster home where Matthew was living.
Matthew’s mother said he was placed in foster care because the Haldimand-Norfolk Children’s Aid Society believed she suffered from depression, though she denies she was an unfit mother and still has custody of a second son.
Calling the girl’s behaviour pattern into question, assistant Crown attorney Patricia Vadacchino asked Bassarath about a diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome.
A lack of information from her biological mother made it impossible to formally diagnose the girl, but Bassarath said she exhibits symptoms of suffering from an alcohol-related neurological developmental disorder.
She also has a mild intellectual disability, an attachment disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder, Bassarath said.
For more than a year, the girl has been in custody at a youth centre, where she has been under close supervision, receiving school instruction and counselling.
Moving her to an adult institution for the remainder of a sentence would disrupt her, Bassarath said, and it would also put a girl who is easily persuaded in the company of older women with poor social skills, which could cause problems.
The court also heard from Terri Austin, a parole supervisor with Correction Services of Canada, who explained that the Grand Valley Institution for women in Kitchener has a program for offenders with special needs.
However, it is a short-term program that transitions women into the regular prison routine, which is not as highly supervised, Austin said.
The downside of placing the girl in an adult institution is that she won’t be able to access the rehabilitative program through the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, said Tony Van Schie, probation manager of youth justice services in Niagara.
Van Schie told court up to $100,000 of federal funding per child per year is available and the girl’s mental health issues make her a good candidate for the program.
Court will resume Aug. 7 in St. Catharines.
Source: St. Catharines Standard