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A CHILD NOT PROTECTED

This is a very sad story. This is a true story. This is a story that leaves many questions unanswered.

On March 2, 2010, little Kayleigh Ingram was born. Her mother Kaitlyn was 18 years of age. Her father Sean was 19.

Little Kayleigh and her Mom Kaitlyn lived with Kaitlyn's parents and Sean lived elsewhere in his own apartment.

What follows is an account of Kayleigh's short life as set out in the judgement of E. Cronk, A.J. of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

"On June 9, 2010, when Kayleigh was three months old, her grandfather noted bruises on her face after she returned from being in Sean's care. The next day, he noted additional bruises and observed Kayleigh throwing up and shivering. Kayleigh also appeared to be lethargic, did not want to be placed on her back, and was whimpering and not smiling.

Family and Children's Services became involved and Sean acknowledged to the assigned case work that he had caused Kayleigh's bruises.

By June 13, 2010, Kayleigh was crying inconsolably, was continuing to vomit and appeared to be experiencing ear pain. She was taken to the hospital but no specific diagnosis was made.

On June 17, 2010, Kayleigh was examined by a paediatrician at his office. He became concerned about her bruising and arranged for Kayleigh to be admitted to hospital pending further examination. Kayleigh was subjected to various tests but no medically conclusive cause of her injuries and condition was determined. She was released from the hospital on June 19, 2010, into the care of her young mother.

On June 24, 2010, a meeting was convened among Kaitlyn, Sean, Kaitlyn's parents and other members of her family, and Family and Children's Services. At the meeting, Sean expressed concern about his ability to parent Kayleigh in times of stress. He requested that a third party be present during his visits with his daughter and agreed that Kaitlyn would fulfil this function in the future.

On July 6, 2010, Kayleigh's paediatrician again examined her, for her four-month checkup. Everything appeared to be normal.

Within days, events took a dramatic and tragic turn. In exchange for Kaitlyn caring for Kayleigh for three days while he was away, Sean had agreed to watch Kayleigh on July 8-10, 2010.

He cared for her on July 8 without incident. On the morning of July 9, he told Kaitlyn that he did not wish to pick up Kayleigh or care for her that day. Kaitlyn protested and took Kayleigh to Sean's residence anyway, leaving her in his care.

During the course of the day, Sean repeatedly called and texted Kaitlyn leaving her a series of insulting and threatening messages. In one of his messages, he told Kaitlyn that Kayleigh was "having a hard time breathing and you don't care".

He also tried to reach the Family and Children's Services caseworker. When he was unable to do so, he left her a voicemail.

At some point on July 9, Sean violently shook Kayleigh causing injuries."

He did not seek medical care for his daughter Kayleigh at any time.

On July 12, 2010 baby Kayleigh died. Her injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

At his trial, Sean pleaded guilty.

The sentencing judge was aware that Sean had pleaded guilty to manslaughter at a relatively early stage, thus saving Kaitlyn Ingram and her family the anguish of a potentially prolonged and emotionally difficult trial. The evidence also established that Sean had accepted full responsibility for his actions, both in his communications with Kaitlyn and with the police, from the outset.

For what it was worth, Sean also conveyed his remorse to the Ingram family at the sentencing hearing.

The maximum jail time that Sean faced for manslaughter was life imprisonment. Under the circumstances of this case, how much time behind bars do you think Sean would receive?

The trial judge sentenced Sean to 8 years in prison. Do you feel the penalty fits the crime? If you think that the jail time was too light then you will be surprised at what follows.

As matters turned out, prior to Sean's trial, he sat in jail for approximately 10 ½ months. This pre-trial time is known as "dead time".

To understand "dead time" you have to understand the following:

After a person has had a trial and is sentenced to time in jail there are provisions in the criminal code for shortening the actual time spent in jail for "remission" (good behaviour), and parole time. Remission and parole can shorten a jail term by as much as 33.3%.

There are no such provisions (remission and parole) for prisoners who sit in jail before their trial. Time spent in jail, waiting for the trial is, from the prisoner's point of view, "dead time".

It is for that reason and others, that the criminal code was amended to allow the courts to reduce a prisoner's sentence by up to one and a half times, for "dead time". So for example if a prisoner had spent 6 months in jail prior to trial, the trial judge could reduce that prisoners jailed time by up to 9 months (6 months x 1.5 = 9).

And that is exactly what happened in this case. Sean had sat in jail before his trial for a total of 10 ½ months. The sentencing judge granted credit of 16 months in jail prior to trial and reduced his sentence by 16 months (10 ½ x 1.5= 16).

Put another way, instead of serving 8 years in jail, Sean was sentenced to 6 years and eight months, after credit for pre-sentence custody (dead time).

In theory he may qualify to have that 6 years, and eight months reduced by another 33.3% for remission and parole time.

Questions:

We began this true story by mentioning that there were many questions unanswered. For example:

  1. Why was Sean not charged with assaulting Kayleigh after he admitted to Family and Children's Services that he had caused Kayleigh's bruises on the very first assault?
  2. Is there some responsibility on the part of Kayleigh's mother Kaitlyn who was supposed to supervise visits between Kayleigh and Sean?
  3. Is there some responsibility on Family and Children's Services for not insisting on a supervisor more mature than Kayleigh's 18-year-old mother?
  4. Is there some responsibility on Family and Children's Services for not having a system in place so that when a caseworker was not available to receive a telephone call, the call would have been answered by an operator, similar to an emergency 911 call, rather than be left to voicemail?

If you are interested in meeting little Kayleigh, click on the link below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foonIUvMRjg

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