Wednesday 6 March 2019


The world is full of creepy people who abuse other people but surly some of the worst ones are parents who abuse their own children. This article is about the parents of a 17-year-old boy who had no chance at all of surviving from the moment  he was born.        

The Court of Appeal in Alberta, Canada ordered that the names of the parents and their son are not to be publically disclosed, hence I will refer to them and the parents and their son.                                  

The parents were charged and convicted of first-degree murder for the death of their 15-year-old son,  heir son  had Type 1 diabetes and in May 2013, he died at home of bacterial sepsis resulting from neglect and starvation. Type 1 diabetes tat was listed as another significant condition contributing to the boy’s death. He died weighing a mere 37 pounds and his body was covered with over 40 bedsores.

The parents admitted that they were guilty of manslaughter for failing to provide their with insulin and medical care and that these omissions caused his death. However, they disputed that they had the subjective intent for murder, or that the circumstances of first-degree murder actually existed.

The trial judge found that the facts,—the majority of which were uncontested, supported the necessary inferences for a conviction for first-degree murder as a planned and deliberate murder or as a murder committed during an unlawful confinement.

The history of the parents’ interactions with medical personnel and child and family services in British Columbia played an important role in the trial judge’s assessment of the parents’ knowledge and laid the groundwork for the inferences that the judgedrew to support the murder convictions. The trial judge heard from numerous medical professionals and social workers who followed the boy’s history in British Columbia and other medical professionals who gave expert evidence about Type 1 diabetes and its treatment, the education and training of families, and  to the boy’s physical state and cause of death.

The trial decision contained a comprehensive summary of the judge’s findings.  Only those facts necessary to the appeal are mentioned however a detailed timeline of events was attached as an appendix to the decision. of the Court of Appeal in the Province of Alberta in Canada.

In December 2000, when the boy was three years old, the parents  brought him to the hospital as he was suffering from abdominal pain, was vomiting, had dark circles under his eyes, was thirsty, had a fever and altered state of consciousness and his breath smelled of ketones. He was suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. DKA is a serious condition and can be fatal.

While in hospital, the boy was treated by a pediatrician specializing in children with diabetes. This physician was involved in his patient’s  care intermittently until approximately 2008. He testified that the boy’s parents were in gross denial about their son’s condition. As a result, the physician sought assistance from the hospital, social workers and child and family services to interview and speak to the boy’s parents because they had become hostile to medical personnel.

[social workers impressed upon the parents that diabetes was a treatable but very serious disease and that it was imperative that they cooperate and learn how to manage their son’s diabetes or  he would not be released into their care. Eventually, the parents demonstrated the requisite degree of knowledge and ability to treat their’s diabetes so that he was discharged into their care two weeks later.

 As part of the discharge plan, a nurse attended at the parents’ residence twice a day for several weeks to provide assistance to them. In February 2001, the physician became concerned that the appellants were falsifying the log books of Alex’s blood sugar measurements. The nurse confirmed the inaccurate recordings, which put the boy at risk of developing DKA again.

His parents denied this behaviour, claimed that the hospital was persecuting them, and suggested that their training was insufficient. Their son was readmitted to the hospital in March 2001 because of poor compliance and to give his parents further education in diabetes management. their son was discharged in April 2001.

Between April and September 2001, the boy and his parents attended at 11 medical appointments where tests were administered and nutritional discussions were held. The parents were advised not to adjust Alex’s insulin without medical approval. The parents stopped attending medical appointments after September 2001.

  In October 2003, their son was brought into the emergency department by ambulance in a state of malnutrition, suffering from hypoglycemia (caused by diabetes) and an altered state of consciousness. He had obvious muscle loss and a distended stomach. caused by gas) His treating physicians indicated that they had never seen a child in such a state of starvation.

The boy was also in a tenuous cardiac state and within a day of death. He suffered from a variety of other ailments, including pneumonia, bacterium, peripheral edema, and pleural effusion. He had a pancreatic pseudo cyst and staphylococcus aureus growing in his blood and candida (fungus) growing on his tongue and in his urine.

His mother admitted that she had not taken her son for medical care for over two years and that she had drastically altered his insulin regime because he had a rash. She advised a physician that he had only been sick for one week before his admission. This physician rejected her reports as her son was suffering from a severe state of chronic malnutrition that, in his opinion, had been persisting for at least two months. His mother again refused to acknowledge her son’s diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes and insisted that he suffered from a different medical issue. Later testing ruled out any further or different diagnosis.

Alex thrived in the hospital following a proper insulin protocol. As his physician could find no other reason for his deterioration, the physician concluded that the appellants denied Alex proper nutrition and insulin. The physician was also concerned that the appellants did not accept Alex’s diabetes diagnosis and that they could not manage it.

 Alex was removed from the appellants’ care and placed in foster care for the majority of 2004. During this time, he gained weight, attended school and learned how to perform his own finger pokes. A provincial court judge returned Alex to his parents in January 2005 following a trial for permanent guardianship.
His parents attended clinic appointments between 2005 and 2008. Their son put on weight and his blood sugar readings were within the acceptable target range for a child of his age.

However, his mother continued to demonstrate resistance to increasing his insulin as he grew, fearing that it caused cold sores. In the summer of 2008, the boy’s parents stopped attending medical appointments. Alex’s physician and the social workers who were engaged to find him were unaware that the boy’s parents had withdrew their son from public school and sometime later the family moved from British Columbia to Alberta.

 While in Alberta, the boy’s parents never sought medical treatment for their son, nor did they enroll him in public school. He was was registered for homeschooling for about a year, although he never submitted any homework to the school system and he was removed from the homeschool program in 2010. He  was never registered in any other school after June 2010.

The evidence recovered after Alex’s death demonstrated that the parents failed to follow an adequate insulin protocol. Prescription records demonstrated that the diabetes medical items the parents   purchased for their son, such as insulin, syringes and blood testing strips varied from 2009 to 2012, with significant reductions in 2011 and 2012 and no items being purchased in 2013. The blood sugar monitors also showed grossly inadequate testing between 2009-2012 and the testing that was completed showed persistent high blood sugar. No blood sugar readings were taken in 2013.

The boy’s parents understood that many doctors and much testing had confirmed their son’s  diagnosis. The parents had been told that testing had been done for other causes of their son’s illness and that nothing else had been found that cause their son to be in the sate he was in.

At the very latest by January 2008, the parents were fully trained and competent to perform Alex’s diabetic treatment. They knew how to administer finger pokes, use the glucose meter and test strips to test blood sugar; that a low blood sugar reading meant Alex was required to ingest a fast acting sugar, that a high blood sugar meant Alex required insulin. They understood the type and amount of insulin their required and if they were unsure they knew they could call a diabetic hotline or attend at any hospital emergency room. Mr. and thy also understood that the food thir son ate  had impacted his blood sugar reading.

They both had been told and understood that their son was required to attend periodic appointments with medical personnel so that his insulin needs could be monitored and adjusted as he developed. This they also didn’t do.

The parents had been told and understood that their son was required to attend periodic appointments with medical personnel so that his insulin needs could be monitored and adjusted as he developed.

The boy had been to the emergency room of SMH twice before, near death, in 2000 and 2003. On both occasions after proper diabetic treatment he recovered and was able to be discharged. On both occasions, the boy’s parents were present throughout and witnessed their son’s’ recovery.

They also understood that son had been taken from them  by the Ministry and placed in foster care because they had failed to administer the proper diabetic treatment for their  as prescribed by his doctor. They understood that the doctors believed their  son had become extremely ill as a result of their inactions.

The boy’s parents understood that if they enrolled their son in a school or took him to a doctor, his diabetes control and medical condition would be monitored by others.

Their son rarely left his parent’s home in NW Calgary and when he did he was always in the company of one or more members of his family. The boy had no contact with anyone his age or any  social life outside his immediate family members.

His parents intended to and did isolate Alex from anyone who could intervene or monitor his insulin treatment aside from themselves

 Sometime after they moved Alex to Alberta. his parents  intentionally began a program of providing their son  with just enough insulin so that he did not develop DKA or Kwashiorkor but not a sufficient amount to appropriately treat his diabetes and allow him to maintain healthy growth as a child.

Their son died as a result of bacterial sepsis brought on by extreme starvation. His physical condition at death was not a sudden or quick occurrence but rather took place over months and possibly, probably, years. As I said earlier, he weighed only seventeen pounds when he died.

For reasons that are not known the boy’s parents never accepted their son’s  diagnosis of diabetes. They did however understand the proper insulin treatment and they understand the consequences to their of not following a proper insulin protocol and not providing him with medical care.

As the parents conceded the constituent elements of the unlawful act 9f manslaughter and manslaughter by criminal negligence, the trial judge focused her analysis on the parent’s’ mental state and the other circumstances necessary for a first-degree murder conviction.

 She reviewed the evidence in detail, set out the applicable legal principles and the position of the parties. Based on the foregoing, she was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt on the whole of the evidence that each of the parents had the requisite intent to commit murder. Relying on the common sense inference that a person intends the natural consequence of their actions, the trial judge determined that it was inescapable logic that the dead boy’s new what they were doing as they watched their son waste away that the cause was their mismanagement of his insulin, and therefore he was not getting the nutrition he required to survive, and they also knew without medical care he would die as he almost had before. Knowing all of this they persisted in their conduct. 

She rejected the defence argument that certain evidence such as the baby food he was being fed or the bandage on his leg suggested that the appellants did not intend for Alex to die. On the contrary, that evidence underscored to the trial judge that the parent’s were well aware of how ill their son was and they still refused to treat his medical condition with proper insulin protocol and medical care. They knew he was dying and refused to take him to the nearest hospital.

The trial judge set out a summary of her findings on the state of the parent’s knowledge, which she found established intent on their part to let their don die.

The trial judge said, “It is therefore a reasonable inference that the Accused, who withheld a proper insulin protocol and then withheld medical assistance in the final months and weeks of their son’s ’s life when it should have been more than obvious that death was imminent, intended to cause their son’s bodily harm that they knew was likely to cause death and were reckless whether heir son died or not.

She also rejected the defence suggestion that the boy’s illness (bacterial sepsis), which lead to death, was quick, calling it “nonsensical” and flying in the face of the obvious photographic and medical evidence. She found that the three medical professionals testified that the boy’s condition was the result of long standing deprivation. This elevated the culpability to murder.

The trial judge next considered whether the murder was planned and deliberate. She found that it was. She was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the parents engineered a protracted period of deprivation of insulin and medical care which they knew meant lack of nutrition and eventual starvation and death. This series of omissions, which went on for months and possibly years, supported the strong inference that this conduct was carried out in furtherance of a planned and deliberate scheme of murder.

Finally, the trial judge considered whether the two patents  were guilty of first-degree murder because the murder was committed while unlawfully confining their son. Having found that the accused were guilty of murder, that their actions were a substantial cause of death, and that there was no intervening act, she focused on whether the parents were guilty of unlawfully confining Alex and whether the unlawful confinement and murder were part of the same transaction.

 She found that the boy’s illness and isolation constituted confinement within its legal meaning. Further, the paents’ purposeful isolation and sustained failure to provide heir son with lifesaving insulin and medical care extended beyond the line for acceptable parental control over a child and was unlawful. Lastly, she found that the continuous transaction and distinct acts requirements were also met. Their son’s’ confinement not only arose from his illness, which was directly caused by the apaent’s decision to withhold lifesaving insulin and medical treatment, but it also arose from their intentional isolation of him from anyone who could intervene on his behalf.

   Based on the foregoing, the trial judge found both parents guilty of first-degree murder as joint-principals. In Canada, persons convicted of first degree murder cannot apply for parole until they have served a minimum of twenty-five years in prison.                         

Their lawyer raised three grounds of appeal that primarily relate to factual findings and inferences that the trial judge drew in concluding that the Crown established first-degree murder. It is common ground that the trial judge’s findings of facts are entitled to deference. (respect)

I won’t go though the other reasons the lawyer gave for appealing the judgment. It is suffice to say that the Court of Appeal ruled that there was no substance in the appeal and refused the parent’s appeal.

I want to add that the officials that were supposed to keep an eye on the family were careless. They readily accepted what the creepy parents of their son told them. There was sufficient evidence established that there was something terribly wrong with those parents. The officials should have seized the parent’s son and placed him in a home where he would be treated properly. If they had done that, that unfortunate boy would be alive today.  

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