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Another Shaken Baby
January 10, 2009 permalink
The junk science shaken baby allegation, supposedly banished by the Goudge inquiry, is back. Three experts convinced a court that retinal hemorrhaging was a sure indication of shaken baby. In the money-making part of the story, the family's three children are now under supervision of children's aid. Since the family is not named, no outsiders, such as child assist services, can check the facts or help the family. In case friends of the family see this item, please get in touch with Dufferin VOCA at the phone or email address on our homepage for assistance.
Crown wants 36-year-old jailed
January 09, 2009, Barbara Brown, The Hamilton Spectator, (Jan 9, 2009)
A 36-year-old mother of three was found guilty yesterday of shaking her 13-month-old baby so hard the boy was left blind and permanently brain injured.
Superior Court Justice David Crane convicted the Hamilton woman on one count of aggravated assault. Prosecutor Janet Booy said she will be urging a term in jail, but defence lawyer John Abrams would push for a period of house arrest.
In the meantime, Crane allowed the mother to remain at home with her husband and all three children -- subject to supervision by the Children's Aid Society -- until her sentencing April 23.
"I am acutely aware that a mother of a baby who is innocent and charged with this offence will be subject to the most serious and devastating allegation of crime. A wrongful conviction is the gravest miscarriage of justice," he said.
But Crane said he was persuaded of her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt based on the testimony of medical experts at her trial last month.
The Crown called three doctors who testified the baby's brain injuries and retinal hemorrhaging were not accidental, but the result of being forcefully shaken or from a blow to his head.
The judge found the mother was the only one who could have inflicted the injuries before calling 911 at 5 p.m. Aug. 31, 2006.
"I find that I am obliged by the evidence and its overwhelming weight," said Crane.
"I accept the conclusions of the medical experts ... that the subject injuries to (the boy) were non-accidental. I find the injuries proven beyond a reasonable doubt as shaken baby syndrome."
Paramedics arrived to find the mother seated on the living room couch and cradling her unconscious child in her arms.
The boy had no external signs of injury but was completely limp and his breathing shallow and irregular. He was taken to McMaster Children's Hospital and diagnosed with swelling and bleeding of the brain.
Doctors also found the micro-thin layers of the baby's retina had split or sheared, causing hemorrhaging and blindness.
The experts testified a finding of traumatic retinoschisis in one so young is a very telling sign of child abuse.
The baby's father, who speaks better English than his wife, reported to health-care and child welfare workers the boy had been climbing on a chair a few days earlier and had fallen 30 to 60 centimetres to the hardwood floor.
In the days after the fall, said the dad, the boy was fussier than normal, refused to eat and vomited a few times. On the day of the 911 call, the baby was seated on the floor of the bedroom and fell backwards, striking his head on the floor.
He said the boy cried at first, then went limp and unresponsive.
Defence lawyer Abrams referred the court to recommendations from the report of the Goudge inquiry, which examined the potential for wrongful convictions based on flawed expert testimony.
The inquiry looked at cases involving the now discredited Dr. Charles Smith, who had an international reputation as a pediatric forensic pathologist despite having no scientific basis for his opinions and none of the requisite training in forensic pathology.
Crane said the three expert witnesses called by the Crown at this trial met the threshold of reliability test "without a flaw."
Source: Hamilton Spectator