A loose end left dangling
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