Wednesday, November 12, 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;


An overview of the Kassandra case prepared by Commission staff reads as follows:

Kassandra was born in Mississauga on December 15, 1987;

Kasandra's parents lived together in a common law relationship at the time of her birth;

They separated in June 1988 when Kasandra was six months old.

Kasandra died pn April 11, 1991, at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Kasandra was three and a half years old and was living with her father and stepmother, Maria, in Brampton,Ontario, at the time of her death.

Criminal proceedings were initiated against Kasandra's stepmother.

The criminal proceedings concluded on October 22, 1992, when Maria pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to two years less a day.

Maria was paroled on June 21, 1993;

The Peel Children's Aid Society became involved with Kasandra in July 1989.

A Coroner's inquest was held into Kasandra's death in 1997;


Justice Goudge discusses Kasandra's case in a section of his report called "interaction with the police at autopsy."

"In a number of his cases, his early informal expressions of opinions to the police were too categorical, potentially skewing the criminal investigation," he wrote.

"His recording of these interchanges was as haphazard as his note-taking at autopsy.

Requests for timely responses to questions or for supplementary opinions were frequently met with procrastination or were ignored.

These cases exemplify practices which can and did cause great difficulties for the criminal justice system."

More specifically, in Kasandra's case - one in which he found that Dr. Smith expressed early informal opinions to the police in far too categorical terms:

By way of background, Dr. Smith performed the post-mortem examination on Kasandra and discovered a "donut-shaped" hemorrhage on her scalp.

After observing the shape of the injury, he told the police to search Kasandra's home for rounded items such as a knob on a cupboard or something with a distinctive geometric shape that could have either a flat surface or a ring-shaped feature.

The police took a woman's wrist-watch from Kasandra's home to Dr. Smith, who found it to be a good match for the injury.

At the preliminary hearing in the case, Dr. Smith told the court that the configuration of the wristwatch was consistent with the configuration of the area of hemorrhage...It was therefor reasonable to conclude that the watch was responsible for the fatal blow to Kasandra's head.

But Justice Goudge finds that "the method of interpretation was wrong" after noting that two of the independent experts testified at the Inquiry that Dr. Smith's overlay of the watch on to the scalp contusion was an incorrect and misleading approach tothe interpretation of that wound.

Justice Goudge also noted that although overlaying an object on to an injury might be useful in some circumstances - for example, where there is a patterned object and an external injury - it was in the deep tissues of the scalp, rather than the surface - and the presence of thick hair and scalp tissues altered the appearance of the injury, "making such a technique useless."

"According to Dr. Pollanen, Dr. Smith's interpretation was really "a pseudoscientific wound-weapon matching analysis," wrote Goudge.

"In this case, all that could be said from the scalp injury was that there was an impact of some sort.

To suggest that a particular object caused the injury was misleading.

Dr. Smith's suggestion to the police, made on superficial analysis, led to an improper, inaccurate, and misleading interpretation of the evidence.

The suggestion should not have been given at all."