Baldwin grandparents sentenced to life in prison
Updated Fri. Jun. 9 2006 1:07 PM ETCTV.ca
Toronto grandparents found guilty of second-degree murder in the starving death of their five-year-old grandson have been sentenced to life in prison with no hope for parole for at least 20 years.Elva Bottineau, 54, was sentenced to 22 years before becoming eligible parole, while her common-law husband Norman Kidman, 53, was handed 20 years, said Superior Court Justice David Watt."The inhumanity revealed here has shocked the community," Watt said. "They must pay a very steep price."But the couple will be eligible to apply to have their sentences lowered after just 15 years under the so-called faint hope clause.Reaction to sentencesCrown Attorney Paul Culver was pleased with the sentences."It was a great judicial reaction to an indescribable situation. Jeffrey was totally ignored during his life and certainly wasn't afterwards. It was a great investigation, a great prosecution," Culver said shortly after the sentencing.Second-degree murder carries an automatic life term, but the judge could have set parole eligibility after as little as 10 years.Bottineau and Kidman were found guilty in April for the death of five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin.The horrid living conditions that led to Baldwin's death in 2002 have been described as one of the worst cases of child abuse in the country's history.Jeffrey and his siblings were put in the care of Bottineau and Kidman while the Catholic Children's Aid Society (CCAS) probed allegations of abuse by their birth parents.Instead, court heard the couple used Jeffrey and his sister to draw income through government support cheques while they were confined to a cold, fetid room each night.Court was told Jeffrey was hidden away in the unheated bedroom for as long as 14 hours a day, and forced to dig through garbage to find food and use the toilet for drinking water.The boy, who was called "Pig" by his grandparents, weighed an emaciated 21 pounds when he died just short of his sixth birthday in November 2002, weighing less than he did when he turned one.Officially, he died of starvation and septic shock.Worried about futureJeffrey's maternal grandmother said she wonders about the suffering the boy experienced and worries about how his sister will deal with what she experienced."I can't imagine what he must have felt," Susan Dimitriades said Friday. "I can't imagine how he lived under that condition and his sister too. Like the judge said, the sister has to deal with what happened to her, and maybe the rest of her life will never be the same."When authorities rescued Jeffrey's sister from the squalor, she too was showing signs of starvation with a distended belly and open sores.Bottineau and Kidman were also found guilty of forcible confinement for the sister's care.Although Jeffrey and his sister lived in squalor, the living quarters for the other children were normal, court was told.Bottineau's lawyer Anil Kapoor, had argued his client was mentally handicapped with a personality disorder that prevented her from seeing Jeffrey waste away.
Homicide investigator Mike Davis expressed frustration with the CCAS outside the courthouse Friday. He said the agency provided "little - if any - cooperation" during the investigation of Jeffrey's death.Davis said there are "policies and procedures" for organizations such as police and the CCAS, "and at no time did I see any cooperation whatsoever with the Catholic Children's Aid Society.""This is something that only a public inquiry can look into and look into the systemic issues that are underlying with the Catholic Children's Aid Society," Davis said."We were and continue to be shocked and surprised by the level of cooperation that was given by the various children's agencies," Culver said.After last month's guilty verdict, Ontario's chief coroner announced an inquest will be held, which will look into how the system failed to protect Jeffrey and the involvement of the CCAS.It is alleged the CCAS did not do a background check on the grandparents prior to the placement. Each of them has previous child abuse convictions.No date has been set for the start of the inquest.