Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Murder convictions upheld for custodial dad, stepmother; his 7-year-old son killed in 1998 (Ontario, Canada)

We have posted about custodial dad EDWARD "TONY" DOOLEY and the stepmother before:

Kirk Makin

Globe and Mail Update
Published on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 1:49PM EST

Last updated on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009 2:03PM EST

The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld two second-degree murder verdicts in one of the most gruesome child abuse cases in Canadian history – the killing of seven-year-old Randal Dooley.

The child was found dead in his Scarborough townhouse in 1998, following months of horrible abuse suffered at the hands of his stepmother and father – Marcia Dooley, 39, and Edward “Tony” Dooley, 43.

Mr. Dooley was given a 13-year parole eligibility period by Ontario Superior Court Judge Eugene Ewaschuk. His wife was given an 18-year eligibility period on the basis that it was she who struck the fatal blow to Randal and inflicted the vast majority of the abuse he suffered prior to his death.

Today, the Court of Appeal also refused requests from Mr. and Ms. Dooley to reduce the period they must serve before they become eligible for parole on their life sentences.

“The sentence appeal has come down to a very narrow question,” Mr. Justice David Doherty said for the Court. “It is hard, absent some error in principle or misapprehension of material evidence, to justify appellate intervention to adjust a mandatory period of parole ineligibility downward by two or three years. I can see no error in principle or misapprehension of the evidence.”

“Nor would I label a five-year differential between the respective periods of parole ineligibility of the appellants manifestly unreasonable in the circumstances as found by the trial judge,” he said.

An autopsy conduct after Randal's death revealed that he had 13 fractured ribs, a lacerated liver and four brain injuries. There were numerous signs of ongoing physical abuse suffered by the boy, who weighed only 42 pounds at the time of his death.

In statements to police that were played at their trial, the defendants accused each other of being the primary abuser of Randal.

In sentencing the pair, Judge Ewaschuk called the case perhaps the worst instance of child-battering in Canadian penal history.

The key argument by defence lawyers at the appeal was that Judge Ewaschuk made errors in his instructions to the jury which eliminated the possibility of the Dooleys being convicted of manslaughter instead of murder. They also objected to the emotive subjectivity of Judge Ewaschuk's jury address, during which he frequently referred to the victim as, “poor pitiful Randal.” However, Crown counsel Jamie Klukach, Leslie Paine and Holly Loubert maintained that, while the comments by Judge Ewaschuk were not necessary, they did not render his jury instructions unfair.

Judge Doherty, Madam Justice Janet Simmons and Mr. Justice Russell Juriansz agreed today that the instructions were extremely important, but that the jury received an adequate version of how they ought to approach the potential charges during their deliberations.