Vi­o­lence against chil­dren

Mother of slain boy wants new of­fence in Crim­i­nal Code of Canada

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC - BY ALY THOM­SON

A Hal­i­fax mother whose three-year-old son was beaten to death is call­ing for Crim­i­nal Code amend­ments that would add an of­fence for vi­o­lence against chil­dren.

Al­lisan Tucker’s son Matthew suf­fered more than 30 blows to his head, a spi­ral frac­ture to his leg and blunt force trauma to his pan­creas when his fa­ther James Peter-Paul beat him to death in Oc­to­ber 2010.

The 31-year-old woman says Peter-Paul pleaded guilty to man­slaugh­ter and was sen­tenced to eight years in prison in Jan­uary 2012, but was granted full pa­role last May. He was orig­i­nally charged with sec­ond-de­gree mur­der.

Tucker said the Crim­i­nal Code should in­clude an of­fence that dif­fer­en­ti­ates vi­o­lent crimes against adults from those against chil­dren, such as the United King­dom’s of­fence of cru­elty to per­sons un­der 16.

“It’s not some­thing that you think about. You don’t ex­pect your child to die,” said Tucker in an in­ter­view Fri­day.

“I’m not look­ing to re­open cases. From a le­gal stand­point, we can’t do that. We want to move for­ward. It’s not about at­tack­ing the per­son who did it. It’s about adding an of­fence in the law that spec­i­fies vi­o­lence against chil­dren on top of the crime that was com­mit­ted, what­ever it may be — like as­sault or mur­der.”

Tucker pointed to the cases of 12 Cana­dian chil­dren who were killed or al­legedly killed by adults, in­clud­ing five-year-old Quinn Butt of New­found­land, whose fa­ther Trent Butt is ac­cused of first-de­gree mur­der.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, Tucker met with Hal­i­fax Lib­eral MP Andy Fill­more to dis­cuss the is­sue.

Fill­more’s of­fice said he was not avail­able for com­ment, but Tucker said the MP told her that he would bring her con­cerns to Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wil­sonRay­bould as part of a planned crim­i­nal jus­tice over­haul.

In a state­ment from the Jus­tice De­part­ment, spokesman Ian McLeod said the Crim­i­nal Code al­ready com­pre­hen­sively pro­hibits all forms of child abuse in charges such as as­sault, as­sault with a weapon, ag­gra­vated as­sault and mur­der.

Is­abel Grant, a pro­fes­sor in the Peter A. Al­lard School of Law at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia, said she doesn’t see a gap in the Crim­i­nal Code that needs to be filled.

Grant noted the Crim­i­nal Code lists sev­eral ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tors that re­late to chil­dren that must be con­sid­ered in sen­tenc­ing for such crimes: One is a re­quire­ment to look at a vic­tim’s age, and an­other ad­dresses a breach in trust.

“Where bod­ily harm is caused to the child, there are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent pro­vi­sions that cover that crime,” said Grant in a phone in­ter­view from her home in Van­cou­ver.

“Mur­der charges are avail­able in that sit­u­a­tion and are not un­com­monly suc­cess­ful.”

Tucker de­scribed Matthew as a “sweet” boy who loved Thomas the Tank En­gine and the movie Cars.

Tucker had cus­tody of Matthew dur­ing his short life, but he had started to ask about his fa­ther, who lived in In­dian Brook, N.S. Tucker said she slowly al­lowed Peter-Paul into Matthew’s life, first with vis­its in pub­lic places and even­tu­ally she trusted him enough to leave Matthew with PeterPaul, his girl­friend and two chil­dren.

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