Reports missing in boy's murder case
30 lost files could embarrass Catholic Children's Aid Society
One may have endorsed grandparents as foster parents
Toronto Star, NICK PRON, COURTS BUREAU, Oct. 19, 2005
The trial of two grandparents facing murder charges in the death of 5-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin has been delayed after it was revealed in court that more than 30 files compiled by the Catholic Children's Aid Society on the case are missing.
Some of the apparently lost files could be embarrassing for the agency. One, for instance, described the grandmother, Elva Bottineau, as a child-care worker approved by the agency, the court heard yesterday.
Another key file contained information on an apparently favourable "risk assessment" that was done by the society on the suitability of the grandparents Bottineau, 54, and her 53-year-old common-law husband, Norman Kidman to be foster parents.
They were awarded custody of Jeffrey and his three siblings after their mother the couple's daughter was suspected of abusing them. Both have pleaded not guilty to one count each of first-degree murder in the child's death on Nov. 30, 2002.
The society had been ordered by search warrant to turn over about 240 relevant files, but as prosecutor Beverley Richards explained to Justice David Watt, some of those files were never given to the Crown's office. The number could be as high as 40, she said.
Sounding exasperated at times, Richards explained to Watt that she and co-Crown prosecutor Lorna Spencer were also having trouble interviewing some officials with the society, after being told that the agency was in the midst of moving to a new office.
"I couldn't care less how inconvenient it is for them," Watt said. "We have been unreasonably accommodating and maybe it is time we stopped."
Earlier, the trial had been delayed several days to give the society time to gather up relevant files for the case. The latest delay means court will not resume until Monday as the hunt begins for the missing files, which were listed on a 20-page search warrant inventory, the court heard.
Those files described in court apparently contradicted other agency files that were turned over to police. One missing report described Bottineau as an "incompetent parent" after she had three children with a cousin in her first common-law marriage, the court has heard.
That report said Bottineau was a danger to herself and others, and showed no desire to improve herself and become a better parent. Both Bottineau and Kidman have criminal records for child abuse, which was noted in another society file on the couple.
Jeffrey died from septic shock, his frail body weakened by hunger and afflicted with bacterial pneumonia he got from sleeping in his own bodily wastes in his locked bedroom.
In earlier testimony yesterday, a 13-year-old neighbour told the court that every time he saw Jeffrey when he visited the house the boy was wearing diapers.
Zachary Noseworthy testified he thought Jeffrey's bedroom was a closet because the door was "always locked," while the doors to the other bedrooms were "always open."
His mother, Jennifer Noseworthy, was next on the stand, testifying that once when she visited the house she found Bottineau in the basement, bathing Jeffrey and a second grandchild in the laundry tub.
Under cross-examination from Bottineau's lawyer, Nicholas Xynnis, Noseworthy agreed that Bottineau had told her it was difficult for her to handle Jeffrey and his three siblings, at one point suggesting that Noseworthy adopt Jeffrey because she knew he would get good parents.