Grandparents sentenced in boy's murder
A family photo of three-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin, at his grandparents' home in east end Toronto. (CanWest)
Peter Brieger, CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, June 09, 2006
TORONTO — The Toronto grandparents who starved their grandson Jeffrey to death cannot seek parole for at least two decades,
when the couple are both in their seventies, a judge ruled Friday.
Calling the crime "egregious" and "cruel," Mr. Justice David Watt said Elva Bottineau must stay in prison at least 22 years
while her common law husband Norman Kidman cannot taste freedom again for at least 20 years — prompting whispers of
"yes, yes," in the packed downtown courtroom.
Watt said autopsy photos of the emaciated boy, who passed away shortly before his sixth birthday, resembled a famine victim
or "a person with full-blown AIDS.
"They are the antithesis of nurturing grandparents," he said. "The inhumanity of this crime shocked the community. Those who
committed it must pay a very steep price."
In his ruling, the judge lashed out at the couple's treatment of their grandson and another granddaughter, both of whom lived
in a spartan, unheated room that smelled of feces with a urine soaked mattress on the floor.
The pair also received eight years each for unlawfully confining one of Jeffrey's sisters, who cannot be named, in the upstairs
room that Watt called "a dungeon.
The petite grandmother, wearing an oversized green sweatshirt, stared straight ahead before slumping back into her chair after
the judge delivered his sentence. Kidman, dressed in the blue Metro Housing work jumpsuit he wears at every court appearance,
also showed little emotion.
The judge's harshly worded sentence — and stiff parole restrictions — were justified given the nature of Jeffrey's
death more than three years ago, said Paul Culver, head of the Toronto region Crown Attorney's office.
"It was a great judicial reaction, a great investigation, and a great prosecution," he told reporters outside the downtown
courthouse. “Jeffrey was totally ignored during his life, but he certainly wasn't after his death."
"I'm very happy with the result and now maybe (Jeffrey) can rest in peace," said Crown prosecutor Bev Richardson, who asked
Watt to bar Bottineau and Kidman from seeking parole for 25 years.
Outside, Susan Dmitriadis, Jeffrey's paternal grandmother, tearfully accepted the sentence.
"It's not going to bring Jeffrey back," she told reporters. "But they didn't get away with it and I'm thankful for that."
In April, the couple, who are both 54, were found guilty of second-degree murder in their grandson's horrendous death.
Police investigators described it as one of the worst child abuse cases they've ever seen. Jeffrey weighed just 22 pounds
when he died, less than half the average weight of a boy his age. His body covered with sores and bruises, Jeffrey died of
septic shock brought on by severe malnutrition.
At a hearing last month, Nicholas Xynnis, Elva Bottineau's lawyer, said her abusive childhood and feeble intellect —
she has been diagnosed borderline mentally retarded — should earn a 12 to 14 year term of parole ineligibility.
Because Kidman played almost no role in raising the children, he deserved less than the average 15-year parole ineligibility
period for child abuse crimes, his lawyer argued.
"Mr. Justice Watt's judgement speaks for itself," Xynnis said Friday. "My client is obviously disappointed and my instructions
are to appeal both the conviction and the sentence."
Watt rejected the defense arguments, noting that the pair showed a "complete and boundless abdication of responsibility."
Not only did they willingly adopt their four grandchildren, the pair showed no interest in the boy's condition when paramedics
arrived at their east-end home on Nov. 30, 2002, he said.
During the couple's trial, court heard that Bottineau refused to take the child to a hospital despite repeated suggestions
she do so because she might lose government money for his care.
In one diary entry, Bottineau warned that Jeffrey and his sister would be on their own if anything happened to her or Kidman
because the children "were raised to be little pigs and can't behave themselves."
During the trial, Watt heard that Jeffrey's grandparents beat him and his sister with a spoon and called them names, including
"f---ers" and "bitch."
But the grandmother treated the pair's two siblings well by comparison — differential treatment that suggested Bottineau
"may not be very bright," but knew what she was doing, Watt said Friday.
"Elva Bottineau may be intellectually impoverished, but she also morally bankrupt," he said. "She is cunning and highly manipulative."
© CanWest News Service 2006