Grand­fa­ther guilty of man­slaugh­ter in death of grand­son

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - BILL SAWCHUK ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

ST. CATHARINES -- Call­ing it a “dif­fi­cult and dis­turb­ing case,” Judge Joseph Nadel con­victed a Thorold man of man­slaugh­ter Thurs­day in the death of his 13-month-old grand­son.

Nadel con­cluded that based on the ev­i­dence, Brian Matthews, a 40-year-old long-haul trucker, vi­o­lently shook Kody Smart and caused his death.

“Clearly, Brian Matthews did not in­tend to kill his grand­son,” Nadel said. “While I am not obliged to de­ter­mine why he as­saulted Kody, I sus­pect that he acted out of frus­tra­tion be­cause the child would not stop cry­ing.

“Matthews got home late Fri­day night af­ter a long week on the road. He was obliged to wake up rel­a­tively early to take care of two young chil­dren. One of those chil­dren, Kody, cried a great deal. I sus­pect that Matthews’ store of pa­tience with Kody was ex­hausted and that his pa­tience be­came de­pleted when Kody would not stop cry­ing. Matthews made the fa­tally bad choice to deal with Kody by vi­o­lently shak­ing him.”

Matthews is free on bail and will re­turn to court April 9 for a sen­tenc­ing hear­ing. There is no min­i­mum sen­tence for a man­slaugh­ter con­vic­tion if a firearm wasn’t used. The max­i­mum penalty is life in prison.

Kody was ap­pre­hended by Fam­ily and Chil­dren’s Ser­vices Ni­a­gara and placed in Matthews’ care nine weeks and three days be­fore his death.

Matthews had been con­victed of child abuse in 1995. The vic­tim was Kody’s fa­ther, Brett Smart, who was six months old at the time.

When Nadel read his ver­dict, there were gasps in the gallery.

Pamela York, Kody’s grand­mother, was over­come with emo­tion and ran from the court­room.

“It hurts even more be­cause I knew some­thing like this was go­ing to hap­pen,” York said. “My grand­son suf­fered. How can some­one do that to a baby? They all cry. They are try­ing to tell you some­thing. It is your job as a par­ent to fig­ure it out.

“My last visit with Kody was at the FACS build­ing. I told them there was some­thing go­ing on in that home. Kody was scream­ing and vi­brat­ing and shak­ing. He did not want to go into his car seat.

“I told the worker some­thing was wrong. She told me to shut up and put him in his car seat. She said I was act­ing like a venge­ful ex.”

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