Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dr. Smith apologizes to judge

Dr. Charles Smith, the man at the centre of the Goudge Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology, has apologized to the Ontario Superior Court Judge James Dunn for making untrue statements that Dunn supported his conclusions in the Baby Amber case.
Smith, who is testifying this week in Toronto, is one of the doctors who concluded that 16-month old Baby Amber of Timmins did not die from a fall down five carpeted stairs.
Smith suggested the cause of death was Shaken Baby Syndrome.
This led to a 12-year old Timmins girl, the babysitter, being wrongly charged with manslaughter back in 1988, when the toddler Amber died on July 30, 1988, from head injuries after a fall.
The criminal charge not only forced the 12-year-old to go through the grueling court process, it also caused extreme financial hardship for her family which was forced to hire expert legal help.
The case went to trial in October 1989 in Timmins. The girl was found not guilty when Justice Dunn concluded there was not enough evidence to prove the case against the girl. Dunn even concluded that Smith had mishandled the case by not following some standard procedures.
Several experts, hired by defence lawyer Gilles Renault, were able to prove that Smith’s theory of shaking the baby was unlikely.
Added to that is evidence that the Timmins babysitter likely was not strong enough to cause shaken baby injuries, but more importantly, she was not in any way likely to cause harm to a baby.
Despite that, Dr. Smith gave the impression to friends and colleagues that Justice Dunn actually believed Smith’s case.
It may have contributed to the reason why the chief coroner and the Hospital for Sick Children tended to ignore the Timmins case and instead opted for “damage control” as outlined in a meeting held in Toronto after the Dunn’s decision.
Smith told the hearing Monday that he thought at the time that Justice Dunn was agreeing with his position,
On another occasion, Smith told colleagues that he had spoken with Justice Dunn in the late 1990s and Dunn had agreed that if the Timmins babysitter had gone back to court, with the new evidence available in the 1990s, the Timmins girl would have been convicted. It was a lie.
His voice hardly a whisper, Smith admitted to the hearing this week “I believed that I heard what I wanted to hear” in his conversation with Dunn.
When asked if he had anything to add, the disgraced Smith said “I deeply regret my conduct. I realize how wrong it was. I'm very sorry that it happened. I would want Judge Dunn to understand that I recognize my mistake in saying what I did and -- and harming his reputation, and -- and I'm very sorry for that.
The hearing continues and Smith is expected to continue testifying for at least another day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone putting the emphasis on the doctor. Who cares if she is sorry the damage is done. Its the babysitter and her family we have to think about. She just passed through 12 years of being labbeled as a offender. Its nice that we finally prove the truth but the label will always follow her.