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Dr Smith Got CAS to Snatch Child
November 21, 2007 permalink
The surviving child of Lianne Thibeault was taken into CAS custody on a fallacious opinion by Dr Charles Smith following the accidental death of another child, Nicholas. The name Thibeault was published two years ago, but is suppressed by the Star in conformance with gag orders from the inquiry. Is the purpose of the inquiry to bring out the facts, or to suppress material previously known?
The Toronto Star
Smith went too far, Irish expert says
November 20, 2007, Theresa Boyle, Staff Reporter
A top British pathologist says Dr. Charles Smith went too far in concluding that an 11-month-old Sudbury boy died because of deliberately inflicted injuries.
Testifying this morning at the Public Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario, Dr. Jack Crane, State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, said Smith was wrong to conclude that the child known only as Nicholas died in 1995 as a result of suffering a "non-accidental" blunt force injury to his head.
"It's a leap too far," Crane said.
"It's beyond the bounds of credibility," he added.
Nicholas' mother had said her son hit his head on the underside of a sewing machine, but Smith said her explanation wasn't consistent with the medical evidence.
She subsequently had a second child removed from her care for a period of time by local child welfare authorities.
The province called the inquiry after questions were raised about 20 child-death investigations on which Smith worked. In 12 of these cases, parents and caregivers were convicted of crimes. In one case an individual was found not criminally responsible. And in seven cases, people were suspected or charged with crimes but not convicted.
Nicholas' mother Lianne falls into the latter category.
An initial autopsy on Nicholas had revealed he had died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
But Smith was brought in to give a second opinion after the case was sent to the Pediatric Review Committee. This required the exhumation of the boy's body.
Crane has been called in by the chief coroner's office to review a number of Smith's cases.
"I am of the view, that Dr. Smith's opinions, as given in this case, were seriously flawed," Crane wrote.
The Irish doctor also called into question an affidavit to the Sudbury child welfare authorities by Ontario's deputy coroner Dr. Jim Cairns, in which he fully backed Smith's work on the case.
"This caused me some concern... It seemed to me the coroner being an independent judicial officer really shouldn't be commenting in this way," Crane said of Cairns.
Crane said Cairns was weighing into the field of pathology, which he had no business doing.
"With the greatest respect to Dr. Cairns, he's not a pathologist.... It's wholly inappropriate for a coroner to comment specifically on a pathological finding," Crane said, noting that the deputy coroner's opinion can carry significant weight.
Meantime, Commissioner Stephen Goudge has rejected a motion by Smith to allow the doctor's lawyers to lead him through his testimony.
Smith's motion had argued that it would be fair and appropriate for him to be examined by his counsel because of the risks to his reputation.
But Goudge ruled that having commission counsel lead Smith through his testimony shouldn't add any risks to Smith's reputation.
As well, Goudge noted that the commission counsel are required to act in the public interest and ensure that all relevant facts are placed before the commission in a fair and impartial way.
Source: Toronto Star