In a recent post on Dr. Colin Manock - the self-styled forensic 'expert' who was not qualified to do death investigations and was responsible for Henry Keogh's wrongful conviction, and who knows how many others, I raised the question 'what kind of man would allow himself to play such a destructive, harmful role in his state's criminal justice system?' The post can be accessed at:
The post was based upon a two part documentary report by Graham Archer on 'todaytonight Adelaide' which appeared on March 21, 2016 which I noted goes a long way to answering this fundamental question. (Part One takes us to the tiny opal mining South Australian settlement of Mintabie in 1978 where Manock performs an outdoor autopsy on an aboriginal man - even though private, in-door cool-room facilities are available, In the words of reporter Graham Archer: "His plan is to demonstrate his mortuary skills before the entire community. Miners, Aboriginal people, women and perhaps even children congregate around in stunned belief. He then goes to work on the body of the deceased - someone's father - someone's brother - someone's son." Mulla Sumner, an Aboriginal elder interjects: "Well, my sort of response to that, and what I can see is that he gutted this bloke in public, he gutted him took out his insides. Graham Archer responds: "That's what happens in autopsies. The skull is cut open, the brain removed as are the organs of the body. The bystanders, especially the Aboriginal people, must have been horrified at this indignity - the desecration of the poor man in public.") Following through on this "what kind of man theme, I am beginning a series in which I will republish posts published over the past seven years which shed light on the same question, when posed with respect to another forensic fraud who destroyed the lives of innocent people through the perverse role he played in the criminal justice system - who, in a public inquiry admitted his lack of qualifications to determine crucial matters such as the cause of death - disgraced pathologist Charles Randal Smith, the namesake of this Blog. Todays focus: What kind of man brings his 11-year-old-son to the exhumation of an 11-month old baby boy?
Harold Levy: Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Smith Accused Of "Uncivilized" Conduct For Bringing 11-Year-Old Son to Exhumation Of 11-Month-Old Baby Boy;
MAURICE GAGNON TO CHIEF CORONER DR. JAMES YOUNG;
On June 25, 1997, Dr. Charles Smith brought his 11-year-old son to the exhumation of Maurice Gagnon's 11-month-old grandson Nicholas who had died suddenly about nineteen months earlier after bumping his head while playing under a table.
This behaviour understandably disturbed Gagnon, who filed a complaint against Smith with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
The letter, dated October 5, 1999, reads as follows:
I wish to register a complaint against one Dr. Charles Randal Smith for conduct unbecoming a civilized human being, let alone a member of the medical profession.
Dr. Smith is the Director of the Ontario Pediatric Pathology Unit located at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
He is also a member of the Pediatric Review Committee of the Office of the Chief Coroner.
My grandson, Nicholas Gagnon, my daughter's only child, died suddenly on November 30, 1995,
On the recommendation of Dr. Smith, and under an order signed by the Attorney General of Ontario, Nicholas was disinterred on June 25, 1997.
We had been assured that the disinterment would occur at daybreak, between 5.30 and 6.30 a.m., to avoid curiosity seekers and to minimize the impact on the family.
However, to accommodate Dr. Smith, the disinterment took place at high noon, in the presence of on-lookers and the child's grieving mother.
Had protocol been followed, my daughter would have been spared this devastation.
In what I can only assume to be unprecedented in the annals of civility, Dr. Smith brought his young son to the grave site to witness the exhumation, no doubt for the boy's entertainment.
Not only did Dr. Smith, the man responsible for the disinterment, trivialize the desecration of our baby's grave, he contemptuously mocked my daughter and the memory of her son, by flaunting his "live" son while cavalierly digging up her "dead" son.
What manner of a man can be so callous, so cruel, so oblivious to the consequences of his actions?
At the very least, my daughter, this family, are deserving of an apology for such an insensitive display by this member of the medical profession...Thank you for your consideration...
The College refused to deal with Gagnon's complaint saying that it did not have jurisdiction over a physician acting under the authority of the Coroner's Act - a legal position later rejected by Ontario's Health Professions Review Board. (See earlier posting:...)
The College did, however, forward the letter to Chief Coroner Dr. James Young, who explained in a letter to Gagnon dated March 9, 1999, (five months after Gagnon forwarded his complaint to the College) that, "Dr. Smith drive to Sudbury on the evening of the 24th of June leaving home after 9.00 p.m."
"His wife was concerned that he may fall asleep at the wheel because he had worked a long day and arranged that his 11-year-old son would accompany him to lessen the possibility of that happening."
Young also explained that the delay in commencement of the exhumation was caused because of the late arrival of Regional Coroner "and had nothing to do with Dr. Smith at all..."
"It is the policy of the Office of the Chief Coroner that only authorized personnel attend a disinterment and it was not appropriate for Dr. Smith's son to be there," Young continued.
"He could have either stayed at the police station or in Dr. Smith's car."
Young went on to indicate that, "Dr. Smith has been appraised of our concerns and is sorry if any of his actions offended your family.
It was certainly not his intention to be insensitive or to offend anyone's feelings.
Dr. (Jim) Cairns (Deputy Chief Coroner) has indicated to me that during a telephone conversation with him that you indicated an apology would resolve this matter.
The office of the Chief Coroner apologizes for any pain or anguish that Dr. Smith's son's presence at the disinterment may have caused your family.
Dr. Smith has expressed his regrets to me and is sorry for any of his actions which contributed to the misunderstanding of the events.
I will ensure that this does not happen again in the future....I hope this letter resolves this issue to your satisfaction...
There is no question that the Chief Coroner gave Mr. Gagnon exactly what he had sought on behalf of his daughter and his family - an apology.
I am, however, puzzled by the reference to a "misunderstanding" as Young clearly acknowledges that Smith's son was present at the exhumation.
And I am deeply concerned with the bizarre incident said about Dr. Smith's judgment and his character.
The exhumation of a child is an extremely personal and distressing matter to the family - especially in the circumstances where Nicholas had been resting for so long.
If anyone should have known this it was Doctor Charles Smith.
And what about Smith's son?
As Dr Young noted, Smith had alternatives: He could have left his son at the police station or in his car;
Surely any father would have to think about what kind of effect the digging up of the remains of a baby in the mournful setting of the cemetary would have on his young son.
I can't understand this incident would not have sent alarm bells about Smith ringing through the corridors of the Chief Coroner's office.