Jeffrey's killers get no parole for 20 years
'They are the antithesis of nurturing grandparents'
Saturday, June 10, 2006
The murder of five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin shocked Toronto and those responsible must pay, a judge said yesterday as he jailed
the boy's grandparents for at least two decades.
Justice David Watt said Elva Bottineau cannot apply for parole from her life sentence for at least 22 years.
Her common-law husband, Norman Kidman, must stay behind bars at least 20 years.
The sentences prompted whispers of "yes, yes," in a packed downtown courtroom. Judge 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."
"I'm very happy with the result and now maybe [Jeffrey] can rest in peace," said Crown prosecutor Beverley Richards.
In his ruling, the judge expressed disbelief at the couple's treatment of their grandson and a granddaughter, both of whom
lived in a spartan, unheated room that smelled of feces with a urine-soaked mattress on the floor.
"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," Judge Watt said.
The pair also received eight years each for unlawfully confining one of Jeffrey's sisters, who cannot be named.
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,
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."
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, Bottineau and Kidman, who are both 54, were found guilty of second-degree murder in their grandson's horrific death.
(Second-degree murder carries a life sentence with parole eligibility set between 10 and 25 years.)
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.
Mike Davis, a former police investigator who worked the Baldwin case, called for a public inquiry to probe the Catholic Children's
Aid Society, which let the couple adopt their grandchildren even though both had abused children in the past.
In 1970, an 18-year-old Bottineau plead guilty to assault causing bodily harm in the death of her first child.
The retired police officer criticized the agency's "lack of co-operation" during his investigation, adding that a scheduled
coroner's inquest into the matter is not sufficient.
"This is not the only case where there have been issues with the CCAS," he said. "I'm very disappointed with them."
Mary McConville, executive director of the Toronto Catholic Children's Aid Society, rejected suggestions the agency did not
co-operate with investigators. Since the Baldwin case, numerous controls have been tightened for all child protection agencies,
including mandatory background checks on people who take children into their care, she said.
At a hearing last month, Nick 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 judgment speaks for itself," Mr. Xynnis said yesterday. "My client is obviously disappointed and my instructions
are to appeal both the conviction and the sentence."
Rejecting the defence arguments, Judge Watt noted the pair showed a "complete and boundless abdication of responsibility."
Not only did they willingly adopt their four grandchildren, the couple showed no interest in the boy's condition when paramedics
arrived at their east-end home on Nov. 30, 2002, and tried to resuscitate Jeffrey, he said.
In fact, Bottineau berated firefighters for making too much noise and turning on lights in the house while Kidman remarked
on his grandson's lack of toilet training, Judge Watt said.
In her diary, 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," the trial heard.
Jeffrey's grandparents beat him and his sister with a spoon and called them names, including "f---ers" and "bitch."
Judge Watt said the grandmother treated the pair's two siblings well by comparison -- differential treatment that he said
suggested Bottineau "may not be very bright," but knew what she was doing.
© National Post 2006