Judge acquits man of inflicting injuries on his toddler
Excellent result at trial by Omri Plotnik of Newman & Company
A judge acquitted a Winnipeg man Thursday of inflicting injuries on his toddler that left the girl blind and unable to speak — but made clear the ruling did not mean he thought the man was innocent.
King’s Bench Justice Vic Toews said conflicting and unreliable evidence in the case left him with reasonable doubt as to the 28-year-old man’s guilt.
“Accordingly, I am obligated to acquit the accused,” Toews said. “However, this conclusion should not be interpreted as a finding that the accused is innocent of the accusation made against him.
“He is, in the context of a criminal proceeding, not guilty — but in my opinion, a child caring agency should be extremely cautious before entrusting another child to the care of the accused.”
Dr. Megan Cooney, director of the hospital’s child protection centre, testified the child suffered a fractured skull, bleeding inside and outside her skull, and retinal hemorrhages “too numerous to count” — the likely result of violent shaking.
Cooney said the retinal hemorrhages, had they been caused by accident, were consistent with someone who had been involved in a car crash or fallen three stories.
“It is her opinion that the trauma suffered by (the girl) is not accidental but has been inflicted or caused by someone else,” Toews said.
The girl remains unable to sit by herself, hold her head up, use her limbs and cannot see or speak.
A medical expert called by the defence, however, testified the girl’s injuries could have been the result of an accident.
The accused did not testify at trial, but during a 12-hour police interrogation repeatedly denied hurting the girl, and described dropping her once after tripping.
“In my opinion, this event could result in the (injuries),” Dr. Janice Ophoven testified.
Ophoven said the girl’s recent medical history, including evidence of a pre-existing head injury and repeated bouts of vomiting in the days prior to her admission to hospital made it impossible to determine when she was most recently injured.
“In the context of a criminal trial, I am not able to consider these two conflicting medical opinions and simply choose one over the other,” Toews said. “I find that the evidence as a whole leaves me with a reasonable doubt about the guilt of the accused.”