April 7, 2006
T.O. grandparents who starved boy to death guilty of second-degree murder
TORONTO (CP) - A Toronto couple who allowed their five-year-old grandson to starve to death have been found guilty of second-degree murder.
Fifty-four-year-old Elva Bottineau and 53-year-old Norman Kidman were supposed to have saved their grandchildren from a life of abuse after they were taken from their birth parents. Instead, five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin was confined to a locked, unheated bedroom for as much as 14 hours a day, breathing in the smell of his own urine and feces.
The details of his tragic life were outlined for the court Friday in a lengthy address by Justice David Watt that took much of the day.
Court heard he was treated like a dog, made to eat out of a bowl with his fingers and he often drank from a toilet when he was thirsty.
Immediately upon the verdict's release, Ontario's chief coroner announced that an inquest would be held.
"The circumstances surrounding Jeffrey's death have been a matter of public interest," Dr. Barry McLellan's office said in a release.
"Issues to be addressed at the inquest include the Toronto Catholic Children's Aid Society's involvement in Jeffrey's placement and the role that agency, and others, had in monitoring his well-being prior to his death."
Emergency crews were shocked when they found Jeffrey's frail body, weighing less than he did on his first birthday.
He was just 21 pounds when he died of starvation and pneumonia in November 2002, weeks before his sixth birthday.
When his sister was rescued from the house she too showed obvious signs of starvation with skinny limbs, a distended belly and open sores.
Although the children lived in squalor, the rest of the house was immaculately clean, court heard.
The couple was also found guilty of forcible confinement for the girl's care.
Bottineau's lawyer Anil Kapoor had argued his client did not deliberately kill her grandson. He cited a psychologist who testified Bottineau was mentally retarded with a personality disorder that prevented her from seeing Jeffrey waste away.
But another expert witness, Lisa Ramshaw, contradicted that assessment and said Bottineau had "a higher order of thinking than someone with mental retardation" and lied to protect herself.
Lawyer Catherine Glaister told Watt that Kidman did not plan to kill Jeffrey and had little involvement in the children's lives.