Monday, April 14, 2008

Part Six: critical comment: "Defending Parents"; News Of Smith Debacle Travels beyond Canada's Borders;






Word on Dr. Charles Smith's devastating impact on Canada's criminal justice system is spreading;

The Associated Press's reportage on the Goudge Inquiry brought the plight of Dr. Smith's victims to readers far beyond Canada's borders.

Google Analytics - a Web-Site tracking service - tells me that in the last month, the 3,700 plus visitors to this Blog have come from almost fifty count ires and territories - including the Phillipines, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia;

Now, an alternative Web-Site called "Atlantic Free Press," - who's motto is "Hard Truths For Hard Times" - has run a provocative story by David Crowe, under the heading "defending Parents," which refers to Sharon's case, the William Mullins-Johnson case, and related cases in other parts of the world;

"The Atlantic Free Press" is published out of the Netherlands, and can be found at

Crowe is described as: "(A) science critic and writer based in Calgary, Canada. (who) has a degree in biology and has written extensively on HIV/AIDS, failures of modern medicine and telecommunications."

"Any parent’s nightmare is the death of a child," the story begins.

"Yet, there is one thing far, far worse – to be accused of killing the child you have just started grieving," it continues;

"While the risk of a child dying is thankfully low, if it does happen, the risk of such horrendous accusations is significant if the death does not have an obvious explanation.

The overwhelming influence of doctors on judges and juries, and the widespread belief that forensic evidence is unassailable make a false conviction quite likely.

Once accusations fly, so may friends and family, confusing accusations with proven facts, and adding to the stress and grief.

If a conviction follows even fewer will stick by the jailed parents.

The stress and lack of financial resources, may even drive parents to plead guilty, coerced into a plea bargain believing prosecutors’s threats to toss them in jail and throw away the key if they fight back.

An Epidemic of False Accusations

The epidemic of false medical accusations against parents is worldwide, particularly in richer countries where the allopathic medical industry has its strongest grip on the public consciousness and the legal system.

In Canada, numerous convictions have been overturned or are being re-examined, due to the sloppy and possibly malicious testimony of one of Ontario’s top pathologists, the now disgraced Dr. Charles Smith.

In one infamous case he failed to recognize the distinctive marks left by dog’s teeth and accused a mother of stabbing her daughter with scissors. Only later was it discovered that a pit bull had been present at the time of her death.

In another case, William Mullins-Johnson spent twelve years in jail convicted of raping and killing his niece because of Dr. Smith, always in danger of being killed by other prisoners.

He was released when it became clear that all Smith’s evidence was unreliable.

Two years later he was fully acquitted with a judge apologizing to him, “It is regrettable that as a result of flawed pathological evidence you were wrongfully convicted and spent so long in custody.”

He has described the trauma of family and friends turning their back on him, and how even after his innocence was proven, his family is still torn. [9,10]

In England, similar cases have gained widespread national attention and concern.

In one of the best known cases, Sally Clarke’s son Harry had not been doing well since being given three vaccinations when he was eight weeks old (he was born three weeks premature).

This was discounted at the trial and she was sentenced to prison for life for killing him, although released 3-1/2 years later.

Her fate was sealed by the opinions of prominent pediatrician Roy Meadow.

Sadly, she never recovered emotionally from these compounded tragedies and committed suicide. [6,7,8]

Roy Meadow also testified in the case of Angela Cannings, accused of smothering two of her children because Meadow testified that two cases of SIDS in one house was a statistical impossibility.

Cannings spent two years in jail before her conviction was overturned on appeal.

The number of proven miscarriages of justice became so great that Britain decided to review all 258 convictions of a parent accused of the death of a child based solely on medical evidence in the past ten years.

Being on the witness stand allows doctors to play God.

Judges and juries defer to the opinions of medical experts, even when there is no visible evidence of harm on the child’s body.

Those accepted as experts by the court are allowed to have their opinions taken as evidence.

This power may go to the head of some who know it is unlikely that they will face judgment for any injustices they cause.

The reaction of the medical profession when these problems come to light is generally lamentable.

In the Sally Clark case Richard Horton, the editor of the prestigious journal Lancet, wrote a strong defense of Roy Meadow when his license to practice was under review by the UK doctor’s association.

Horton did not argue that the conviction was erroneous, but wanted the blame spread around, rather than only punishing the man who gave false evidence.

This attitude puts the right of a man who has done something horrible to continue working above the suffering he caused to a mother who has to grieve her baby alone in a cold cell.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati

One man who single-handedly has saved many parents from such dire consequences is the California-based pathologist and toxicologist Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati.

He understands how coroners can see their role as securing convictions rather than seeking the truth or accepting uncertainty.

He has seen how easily they jump to conclusions based on accepting the fraction of the available data that is concordant with their theory.

The children described in this article are real cases, documented in the scientific journal Medical Veritas by Dr. Al-Bayati.

Destiny Jacobo

Destiny Jacobo died suddenly before her second birthday.

Los Angeles County coroner, James K. Ribe, reported the death as Shaken Baby Syndrome compounded by forcible rectal insertion (i.e. brutal physical and sexual abuse).

This resulted in her parents being tried for murdering their own daughter.

The mother was persuaded to plead guilty to receive a ‘lighter’ sentence and was sent to jail for life in 1996.

Almost a decade later Al-Bayati reviewed the autopsy report and discovered many facts that contradicted Ribe’s strongly stated accusations.

He found bleeding had occurred in several organs, not just in the head, that the pancreas was severely damaged and that the lungs excess fluid in them, probably caused by pneumonia.

He found no evidence of anal trauma and the bleeding, while in the rectal area, was actually outside the physically undamaged rectum.

It is clearly impossible to insert a blunt object into the anus without physical damage to the entryway.

He concluded that Destiny died from infections, including pneumonia, possibly due to Vitamin K deficiency.

This vitamin is produced by intestinal bacteria which are susceptible to depletion by drugs such as antibiotics and antifungals.

Deficiency causes bleeding and increases the risk of bone fractures which obviously can easily be confused with symptoms of physical abuse.

While the mother is still locked up, the father did not plead guilty and, while also sentenced to prison for life, was actually released only five years later when he proved he was not physically present.

The father is appealing the mother’s conviction and has complained about Ribe’s conduct to the California Medical Board.

The Death of Baby Nadine

Baby Nadine died in Sweden when her heart suddenly stopped on her fortieth day of life.

Accused of shaking her to death, her father was sentenced to five years for manslaughter.

Again, doctors ignored evidence of pre-existing health problems beginning before birth, and rushed to accuse.

Another jury was swayed by faith in the pronouncements of doctors.

Nadine’s health problems began before birth.

Her mother’s membranes ruptured prematurely and she was delivered by a C-Section.

Her mother also smoked and drank. At birth several metabolic abnormalities were measured, including jaundice (a bilirubin level almost double the maximum ‘normal’ value), indicating that Nadine was already suffering from an infection and inflammation.

Nadine was sickly and had an extremely low weight gain during her short life.

Partly because of this, during her first month of life she received three courses of antibiotics.

Her mother, who was breastfeeding, also took antibiotics.

An appeal to the Swedish Supreme Court was rejected, but Peter Althin, a famous lawyer and member of parliament has taken up the case, and supporters hope to achieve a retrial on the basis that the Supreme Court used as an expert the very doctor whose testimony had resulted in the conviction in the first place.

Baby Stryker’s Death

Baby Stryker had serious health problems starting from birth, resulting in the use of antibiotics and other medications. His mother had also previously had two stillbirths.

When only 55 days old Stryker stopped breathing in the middle of the night.

Heroic efforts by the father and paramedics were not able to revive him.

Among the many findings in the autopsy were elevated levels of methanol and formic acid in the blood and the parents were accused of poisoning their baby with methanol (“wood alcohol”).

A report by Al-Bayati revealed the evidence of other health problems and the lack of evidence for methanol-induced damage.

He point out that the methanol and formic acid were probably due to contamination of blood samples with formalin, a compound containing both methanol and formaldehyde (which can be converted into formalin by enzymes present in red blood cells).

After these accusations the other two children were taken and, in a heart-wrenching twist, a third child was snatched from the mother’s arms right after birth.

The investigation dragged on for two years but after a family court hearing in September, 2007, the children were returned to their parents with full custody, although the police still have a murder investigation open.

Baby Averial’s Death

Unlike most of the other babies in this article, Averial had a normal birth. Like many other American babies she was given a Hepatitis B vaccination before leaving the hospital and was fed formula.

The parents noticed that she was always fussy, did not sleep deeply and had serious diarrhea, problems which conceivably were due to the vaccination and the formula.

When Averial was less than two months old she suddenly stopped breathing and went limp in her father’s arms.

The hospital treated her with epinephrine and sodium carbonate to revive her and reduce the acidity of the blood.

This treatment has a risk of significant bleeding and hospital data shows her blood volume decreased 21% in three hours.

Despite intensive treatment she died about 10 days after admission.

Imaging done at the hospital showed skull and rib fractures as well as extensive internal bleeding, evidence that damned the parents.

The Medical Examiner claimed that these symptoms must, because there were no external signs of abuse, have been caused by the father shaking his daughter to death.

The father remains accused of capital murder.

Al-Bayati was able to use the hospital’s own information to show that the testimony was false.

The earliest images clearly show no fractures and bleeding, and so these problems must have been due to aggressive treatment at the hospital.

Al-Bayati believes that the skull fracture was due to the internal bleeding triggered by epinephrine and sodium carbonate treatment, leading to massive swelling.

He believes that her death was due to unrecognized bronchopneumonia and respiratory distress.

Averial’s father is out on $200,000 bail still awaiting trial more than three years after his daughter’s death.

What You Should Do

The best defense against false accusations is a good offence and you need to find a medical expert not scared to buck the system.

Sadly such experts are not common, because most doctors support each other instinctively.

A strong report founded on solid science will often cause legal authorities to back off, knowing that the case will probably attract publicity and may, in the end, make them look heartless, sloppy and incompetent.

If the case does go to trial a strong contrary medical report based on science may well sway the jury.

Even if jury does not fully believe in the parent’s innocence, they may at least accept that the cause of death is uncertain.

A common factor in many cases is a combination of pre-existing health problems and aggressive medical treatment that only makes things worse.

Vaccines and antibiotics are often seen as completely innocuous, and many medical experts are reluctant to question these pillars of pediatric treatment.

Most of all, do not trust the legal system to find truth.

The legal system commonly fails people who cannot afford to hire good lawyers and experts.

If you are facing medical accusations in court you need to throw all your financial resources at the case to minimize your risk of joining the long list of parents in prison under false pretences.

Side Bar or End Note?

Financial problems with these cases are common, as 200 to 300 hours of medical research are required for each case, or even more.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati has set up a non-profit organization, the “International Center for Better Medicine”, so that other people can assist with the payment of his fees.

Checks can be sent to this organization at 150 Bloom Drive, Dixon, CA, 95620. While Al-Bayati has acted pro-bono in several cases, he cannot always afford to do so.

Every $100 donated ensures that accused parents get one hour of the best medical-legal expertise."

(Footnotes for this story can be found on the Atlantic Free Press Web-Site);

Canadians, and people concerned about miscarriages of justice elsewhere in the world, have the opportunity to make contributions to the Association In Defence Of The Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) which continues to do a phenomenal job of securing justice and vindication for victims of Dr. Charles Smith such as William Mullins-Johnson.

This momentous task is just part of the work that AIDWYC does in its perpetual battle against wrongful convictions in Canada and elsewhere,

AIDWYC is holding a fundraiser called "Sounds Like Justice" at the Courthouse in Toronto on May 8th.

The current list of performers includes Blue Peter, Fred Eaglesmith, John and Mary and the Valkyries, The Spoons, Liberty Silver, the Dave Shaw Trio and Dave Moran.

More details can be found at;