Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dead baby's dad 'not normal', court told

Lawyer pushes for psychiatric tests after verdict

The actions of a father who performed hours of artificial respiration and used electrical wires to try to restart his daughter's heart should be reason enough for the court to call for a psychiatric assessment, his lawyer said Thursday.
What Jonathan Hope did four years ago after discovering his infant daughter's lifeless body raises questions about his mental functioning, Joan Blumer said. She applied to have the court call for testing to see if Hope should be found not criminally responsible.
Hope and his former wife, Lisa Guerin, were convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life, following a two-week trial earlier this month. The pair were acquitted of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing the death of their daughter, Summer Hope, on April 30, 2006.
The girl died after drinking a fatal dose of her father's methadone.
On Thursday, Blumer made an application to have her client found not criminally responsible for the crime by reason of a mental disorder.
Hope performed artificial respiration for hours, then pulled a plug from the wall and scraped the wires with a knife and applied them to his 16-month-old daughter's chest to revive her like he had seen on TV, Blumer said Thursday.
"That ought to cause the court concern," she told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Earl Wilson, adding it was "not normal behaviour."
Blumer said the evidence is not necessarily enough to warrant a finding that Hope is not criminally responsible, but should be adequate evidence for testing to be done.
Wilson's decision on the application could set a Canadian precedent.
Hope was initially found unfit to stand trial in the case, but that was changed following a later examination by a court-appointed psychiatrist.
Blumer said a psychiatrist treating Hope before the trial indicated Hope had disorganized thoughts, mood instability and "profound memory lapses."
A second psychiatrist said Hope had cognitive difficulties and antisocial personality traits.
During the application, however, the judge said he could not see any evidence of cognitive problems or memory lapses while watching two recordings of interviews between police and Hope. One of the videos was deemed inadmissible in the end.
Wilson said none of the police officers, paramedics, firefighters, nor the medical examiner, indicated that Hope had cognitive issues or a faulty memory.
Outside of court, Crown prosecutor Ken McCaffrey said even though Hope's behaviour the day his daughter died may have been peculiar, it doesn't mean he's not criminally responsible in Summer's death.
He added it is highly unusual that Blumer is making this application after a verdict. He said the Crown will argue the evidence has to be more compelling for the judge to agree with Blumer's application.
Generally, a lawyer makes a not-criminally-responsible defence during the trial and not after conviction, but Blumer noted the Criminal Code stipulates the application can be made at any point prior to sentencing.
The application hearing will continue on Monday.

Dad of overdose victim has mental health issues, lawyer argues
Spending hours trying to revive his dead baby, including an attempt to fashion a home-made defibrillator, is evidence a Calgary man has mental health issues, his lawyer said Thursday.
Defence counsel Joan Blumer said Jonathan Hope should be examined by a psychiatrist to determine if he was insane at the time he failed to properly care for his daughter.
Justice Earl Wilson questioned whether there was sufficient reason to believe Hope may have been not criminally responsible at the time of his daughter’s methadone overdose.
Wilson said he saw no indication of the “cognitive dysfunction” doctors who earlier tested Hope suggested may exist, in the evidence called at his trial.
But Blumer said her client’s reaction to discovering little Summer Hope unconscious and not breathing in their Southwood-area home was proof enough.
“This was a man who was apparently administering artificial respiration on a child for hours after she was deceased,” Blumer said.
“This is a man who pulls a plug out of the wall ... and applied that to the child,” she said.
“That in my view is not normal behaviour.”
Wilson convicted Hope and his former wife, Lisa Guerin, of failing to provide the necessaries of life after their 16-month-old daughter died April 29, 2006.
The dad told emergency responders he awoke the next day around 9 a.m. and desperately tried to revive her until he spoke to a relative four hours later, who then summoned medical help.
During the course of his attempt he cut an electrical cord from a lamp, stripped the ends and tried to shock his daughter back to life.
Blumer said a brain injury suffered by Hope years earlier may have impacted his ability to appreciate the consequences of his conduct.
“That lead him to the bizarre things (he did) after the death of his daughter,” she said of the earlier injury.
She said Wilson should send Hope for testing to determine his mental state at the time.
The judge will hear submissions from Crown prosecutor Ken McCaffrey, who is opposing the application, on Monday.

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