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Dignity for Jeffrey

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Dignity’ for boy only in death
Grandparents get stiff sentences
No parole possible until 2025, 2023
Ex-officer wants public inquiry into child’s death
Jun. 10, 2006. 08:39 PM
NICK PRON
STAFF REPORTER

A judge’s ruling that Elva Bottineau will have to wait until the year 2025 before trying for parole after murdering 5-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin has been praised by police officers, prosecutors and relatives of the child.

“Mr. Justice David Watt has given Jeffrey some dignity in death that he never had in life,” Sgt. Kimberley O’Toole said outside court yesterday.

“I’m very happy with the results and maybe now Jeffrey will rest in peace,” said Crown attorney Beverley Richards, who along with co-counsel Lorna Spencer, prosecuted Bottineau and her common-law husband, Norman Kidman, both 54, in the Nov. 30, 2002, death.

Watt said that Kidman will have to wait until 2023 before applying for parole.

Jeffrey’s grandparents were found guilty in April of second-degree murder, and given automatic life sentences. Watt said Bottineau had to wait 22 years before applying for parole, and Kidman, 20 years. They were given credit for the three years in jail in pre-trial custody.

Nicholas Xynnis, Bottineau’s lawyer, said later both the conviction and the sentence will be appealed for his client because of “errors made in fact and in law.”

Toronto’s chief Crown attorney, Paul Culver, had some harsh words for the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, which had not opposed court orders in the late 1990s that turned Jeffrey and his three siblings over to their grandparents after they were taken from their birth parents after allegations of abuse.

“I was shocked and surprised by the low level of co-operation that the society gave to the homicide detectives who investigated the case, and to the prosecutors,” Culver said later.

Mike Davis, the lead investigator on the case until his recent retirement from Toronto police, said there should be a public inquiry into Jeffrey’s death, described by Watt as an “abhorrent crime” and “an offence of indescribable cruelty.”

The child died of septic shock, his body weakened from months of starvation and suffering from bacterial pneumonia from sleeping in a urine-soaked crib in a bedroom locked from the outside. Jeffrey and a sister, who was also kept in the locked room, had to eat from a bowl while sitting on the kitchen floor on a mat used by the family dog. At times, he drank water from the toilet.

Davis told reporters that calling an inquest into the death wasn’t enough. Inquests are held to determine how similar deaths can be avoided, not to lay blame.

“There was little if any co-operation from the Catholic Children’s Aid Society in this case. This is something that only a public inquiry can look into,” the former detective said.

“I am quite surprised that the provincial government has been silent on this issue ever since the conviction. I would hope that they would sit up and pay attention. This is not the only case where there has been issues with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society. We all know there have been other issues with others cases involving the society,” David said.

Mary McConville, executive director of the society, said later the society “fully co-operated with the Crown and the police,” adding that “any suggestion the society hasn’t co-operated ..... is simply untrue.”

She said the society was looking forward to the inquest because it would help to clear up “a lot of misinformation.”

“An inquest gives us the opportunity to communicate more clearly on why this happened, what we did in response to Jeffrey’s tragic death and what the child welfare system has learned from this tragic situation,” she said in an interview.

Susan Dimitriadis, Jeffrey’s other grandmother, while telling reporters she was happy with the sentence, later broke down in tears when asked if the society has allowed her to see Jeffrey’s three siblings.

“They’re still not letting me see them,” she said, her voice breaking. “I just want to be a part of their lives.”

One of Bottineau’s children from her previous marriage, Fred Crotta, said there were “no words” to describe his hatred for his mother and stepfather. He said he was taken from the home at age 9 after being abused by his mother.

The 34-year-old man said the death penalty should be brought back for the couple.

“They should never get out of prison. The penalty is not stiff enough.”

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