“EVIDENCE FROM THE PRELIMINARY HEARING IS SUBJECT TO A CUSTOMARY BAN ON PUBLICATION. IN AN INTERVIEW AFTER THE PRELIMINARY HEARING, HOWEVER, DR. CHARLES SMITH, THE DIRECTOR OF PATHOLOGY AT TORONTO’S HOSPITAL FOR SICK CHILDREN, WHO PERFORMED THE AUTOPSY ON SHARON, WAS ADAMANT THAT THE CHILD DIED FROM 82 STAB WOUNDS.”
REPORTER TIMOTHY APPLEBY: GLOBE AND MAIL;
While shuffling through some old clippings I discovered a story on "Sharon's Case" published in the Globe and Mail on April 26, 1999 which says a great deal about Dr. Charles Randal Smith.
The story, by reporter Timothy Appleby, ran under the heading, "Woman to be released on bail in daughter's killing...Prosecutors want seven-year-old's body exhumed to check whether wounds inflicted by knife or dog."
“In a startling reversal of fortune, a woman charged with murdering her young daughter is expected to be freed on bail this morning after almost two years in custody," the story begins;
Appleby goes on to describe how Kingston police charged Sharon's mother with second-degree murder of her daughter after Dr. Charles Smith concluded she had been stabbed dozens of times – while Sharon's mother, who had no criminal record denied the accusation from the outset, said police had bungled the case, and that no crime had taken place.
“Rather, they say, Sharon was killed by a marauding pit bull named Hat Trick.”, Appleby reports;
The story also details how Smith’s opinion was contradicted by Dr. Rex Ferris, a Vancouver forensic pathologist retained by the defence who had drawn a totally different conclusion from the pathology report and death scene photographs..
Now for the part of the story which says a great deal about Charles Smith:
“Evidence from the preliminary hearing is subject to a customary ban on publication. In an interview after the preliminary hearing, however, Dr. Charles Smith, the director of pathology at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children,, who performed the autopsy on Sharon, was adamant that the child died from 82 stab wounds.”
This comment says several disturbing things about Smith:
First, he did not hesitate to abdicate the neutrality expected of a Crown expert witness. (Smith told Justice Stephen Goudge that he saw himself as a member of the prosecution team at the time he testified at Reynold’s preliminary hearing;
Second: He Appeared to be using his skill in dealing with the media to inflame the public against Sharon's mother - at a time when prosecutor's were considering release - and to shear up public support for his own opinion as opposed to Ferris, and:
Third: He seemed unconcerned that his public intervention in the case while the murder charge was still before the Court might draw criticism from either the Chief Coroner’s Office – or the Court;
Dr. Smith has asked Commissioner Goudge to believe that no one ever taught him the responsibilities imposed on experts who give testimony in the area of forensic pathology when they testify on behalf of the Crown in Court;
I don’t buy this for a moment;
The obligation of a Crown pathologist in a second-degree murder case not to prejudice the public – including a potential jury pool - against an accused person, is as motherhood as can possibly be.
A high school student would understand that - let alone a prominent pathologist who had access to police or prosecutors across the province if he ever had any questions as to the legalities involved in any criminal case from either the police or prosecution perspective.
As Appleby’s story appeared very prominently on Page One of the Globe and Mail it is most unlikely that the authorities would have missed it.
(Or the suggestion that Dr. Smith was head of the Pathology Department at the Hospital for Sick Children - a prestigious position - which simply was not true! He was merely a staff member of the pathology department.)
Could it have been the desire of the authorities to obtain their convictions at all costs that prevented them from reigning in Dr. Smith and bringing him to account?
Weekend Quick Clicks…
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