A loose end left dan­gling

The Western Star - - Editorial -

In the af­ter­noon of June 27, Jus­tice Leo Barry of the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry re­spect­ing the Death of Don­ald Dun­phy de­liv­ered his re­port to Jus­tice and Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter An­drew Par­sons.

Glen Whiffen’s lead ar­ti­cle in The Telegram the next day was in­for­ma­tive on five key con­clu­sions and five key rec­om­men­da­tions. The last few lines of the last para­graph had me scratch­ing my old bald head.

Whiffen writes, “Mean­while, ear­lier on Tues­day, in­quiry co­coun­sel Kate O’Brien was in New­found­land Supreme Court to tie up one loose end from the in­quiry. O’Brien re­quested that Don­ald Dun­phy’s sis­terin-law, Deb­o­rah Dun­phy, be held in civil con­tempt for re­fus­ing to tes­tify at the in­quiry. Deb­o­rah Dun­phy’s lawyer didn’t con­test the or­der, and she was given a $100 fine.”

A pal­try $100 fine? Chicken feed. Chump change. The av­er­age kinder­gartener these days could scrape up that amount in loonies and toonies kick­ing around his or her bed­room.

Wasn’t Mrs. Deb­bie Dun­phy the last per­son Const. Joe Smyth spoke to be­fore he went to Don­ald Dun­phy’s house next door? Could she have in­formed the in­quiry of Smyth’s mood and man­ner? Were there any ques­tions Smyth may have asked her, and what was her char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of her es­tranged brother-in-law to the Type A dis­dainer of losers and lu­natics?

I am sure, given the op­por­tu­nity, the le­gal bea­gles Barry, O’Brien and co-coun­sel San­dra Chay­tor could have found more ques­tions to ask the re­cal­ci­trant res­i­dent of Mitchell’s Brook.

Also, I un­der­stand our courts, judges and both de­fense and prose­cu­tion lawyers set great store by prece­dent.

When, not if, there is a ju­di­cial in­quiry into Nal­cor En­ergy and Muskrat Falls de­vel­op­ment, say, or an­other in­quiry into a cou­ple of dozen, spread over sev­eral years, of botched pro­ce­dures and sub­se­quent un­nec­es­sary suf­fer­ing and deaths due to care­less­ness or reck­less­ness of med­i­cal staff/ nurs­ing staff/tech­ni­cal staff at one of our ma­jor hospi­tals, or when the next well-armed yet non-com­pli­ant with his train­ing po­lice­man uses lethal force and shoots dead the next marginal­ized (phys­i­cally dis­abled or suf­fer­ing from men­tal dis­or­der) cit­i­zen, and a prin­ci­pal wit­ness who could shed some light on the events be­ing in­quired into snubs that in­quiry, thumbs one’s nose at the judge in his court, so to speak, will the fine for a re­fusal to tes­tify be a fist­ful of coins?

I will close with a ques­tion for the se­nior com­man­ders at RCMP “B” Di­vi­sion on White Hills Road, and the se­nior man­agers with the RNC at 1 Fort Town­shend.

If there is non-com­pli­ance by a po­lice of­fi­cer with his po­lice train­ing and a civil­ian dies as a re­sult of that non-com­pli­ance, would the non-com­pli­ance with po­lice train­ing be con­sid­ered to be neg­li­gence on the part of the po­lice of­fi­cer? Tom Careen


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