Saturday, November 8, 2008


Over the past eighteen months I have used this Blog to intensively report on developments relating to Dr. Charles Smith culminating with the recently concluded Goudge Inquiry.

I am now winding up this phase of the Blog - to be replaced eventually by periodic reporting of developments relating to Dr. Smith and related issues as they occur - with an examination of Justice Goudge's findings in the cases reviewed by the Inquiry.

I think it is important to take this closer look at the report in this Blog, because the mainstream media, which has done an admirable job in reporting the inquiry, have gone on to other stories.

Justice Goudge's findings relating to the various cases have been scattered throughout the report.

My approach is to weave together the findings relating to all of the principal actors - so we can get a fuller picture of Justice Goudge's findings as to their conduct;


Some of Justice Goudge's strongest criticism of the Deputy Coroner, Dr. Jim Cairns relates to the case of Baby X, in which he permitted Dr. Smith to improperly further a police investigation;

Justice Goudge found that in this case Cairns and Smith had attended case conferences with the police in April and May, 1996 and knew that Baby X's mother was a person of interest in the police investigation;

"Subsequently, Baby X's mother contacted Dr. Cairns to inquire about the results of the autopsy" Goudge reports.

"Dr. Cairns asked Dr. Smith to meet with Baby X's mother, and Dr. Smith agreed.

On September 4, 1996, because of their lawful surveillance of her home, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) intercepted a telephone conversation between Dr. Smith and Baby X's mother and learned that that Dr. Smith intended to meet with the mother at her home.

The OPP then told Dr. Smith that the police had installed listening devices in the home, which would likely intercept the scheduled conversation.

Although it is not clear when Dr. Cairns learned that the house was under surveillance, he certainly knew that fact before Dr Smith met with Baby X's mother.

Despite this knowledge, he did not object to Dr. Smith going forward with the meeting;

In short, Dr. Cairns permitted D. Smith to attend at a suspect's house and discuss the contents of the report of post-mortem examination with her while the police secretly recorded their conversation.

Dr. Smith met with the Barrie Police Service and the OPP before and after his meeting with Baby X's mother on September 5, 1996;

The police did not tell Dr. Smith what to do during his meeting with Baby X's mother, nor did they ask him to solicit any information from her.

Nonetheless, with Dr. Cairns approval, Dr. Smith improperly furthered a police investigation."

Justice Goudge concluded that, "Baby X's case is a clear example of a situation where Dr. Cairns failed to provide necessary oversight of Dr. Smith Instead, he permitted Dr. Smith to abandon his appropriate role as an expert scientist and to assist a police investigation improperly."

He noted that several of the forensic pathologists and coroners who testified at the Inquiry emphasized that it is inappropriate for a pathologist to meet with a person who is a suspect of an on-going police investigation - and that the effect of that inappropriate meeting was compounded because the conversation was being intercepted by the police.

"Dr. Cairns and D. Smith compromised the independence of their respective positions as Deputy Chief Coroner and expert witness," Goudge ruled.

"This case was a warning sign about D. Smith's failure to understand the appropriate role of a pathologist in a criminally suspicious case."

"Dr. Cairns dis not recognize the warning sign and, indeed, permitted the meeting to go ahead.