Tuesday, October 19, 2010


BACKGROUND: The Goudge inquiry focused largely on the flawed work of Dr. Smith — formerly the province's chief pediatric pathologist and a self-styled member of the prosecution team — whose "errors" led to innocent people being branded as child murderers. The 1,000-page report by Justice Stephen Goudge slammed Dr. Smith, along with Ontario's former chief coroner and his deputy, for their roles in wrongful prosecutions and asked the province to consider compensation. The provincial coroner's office found evidence of errors in 20 of 45 autopsies Dr. Smith did over a 10-year period starting in the early 1990s. Thirteen resulted in criminal charges. William Mullins-Johnson, who was among those cases, spent 12 years in prison for the rape and murder of his four-year-old niece, whose death was later attributed to natural causes. In another case, Dr. Smith concluded a mother had stabbed her seven-year-old girl to death when it turned out to have been a dog mauling. The inquiry heard that Dr. Smith's failings included hanging on to crucial evidence, "losing" evidence which showed his opinion was wrong and may have assisted the accused person, misstating evidence, chronic tardiness, and the catastrophic misinterpretation of findings. The cases, along with other heart-rending stories of wrongful prosecutions based in part on Smith's testimony, also raised a host of issues about the pathology system and the reliance of the courts on expert evidence."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Ontario Court of Appeal is set to hear two appeals of convictions based on opinions of Dr. Charles Smith tomorrow (Wednesday) beginning at 10.30 AM. The Court refers to the cases as "Baby F" and "Baby M" respectively. The Association In Defence of the Wrongly convicted has performed an extremely valuable role by pursuing these and many other cases through the Goudge Inquiry - and now through the Ontario Court of Appeal. Since both cases rest on Smith's opinion that the cause of death was "asphyxia," Justice Goudge's deep concern over "Dr. Smith's opinions in many of the "asphyxia cases" is highly relevant. The following synopses of the two cases were published in Appendix 28 to the report of the Goudge Inquiry as follows:


Baby F was born and died on November 28, 1996. On November 30, 1996, police officers discovered Baby F’s body wrapped in several plastic bags in her mother’s bedroom closet. She had been dead for two days. On December 1, 1996, a pathologist at the local hospital conducted an autopsy. The pathologist requested a second opinion from Dr. Smith, who produced a consultation report, concluding that the cause of death was asphyxia. On March 19, 1998, Baby F’s mother was charged with infanticide, and on July 6, 1998, she pleaded guilty to the charge. She received a two-month conditional sentence to be served at home, was placed on probation for three years, and was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service. On October 24, 2006, Baby F’s mother received a pardon arising out of the conviction.


Baby M was born and died in Pickering, Ontario, on November 8, 1992. Early that morning, Baby M’s grandparents found Baby M’s mother in the bathroom of their home, covered in blood. Ambulance attendants discovered Baby M’s body in the toilet. Dr. Smith performed the autopsy on the morning of November 8, 1992, and concluded that the cause of death was asphyxia. That evening, the police charged Baby M’s mother with second-degree murder. In July 1994, Baby M’s mother pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She received a suspended sentence, probation for three years, and was ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be accessed at:


For a breakdown of some of the cases, issues and controversies this Blog is currently following, please turn to:


Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog; hlevy15@gmail.com