Friday, 6 May 2011

SBS: Ontario Appeal court acquits Dustin Brant (another Dr Charles Smith case)

The Ontario Court of Appeal acquitted Richard Brant of aggravated assault, saying that his conviction was "unreasonable" and "a miscarriage of justice."
Brant, now 38, was charged in 1993 with manslaughter in his baby's death the previous year. He eventually pleaded guilty to the lesser charge and was sentenced to six months in jail.
Clutching pictures of his son Dustin, Brant said he was relieved his name had finally been cleared.
"Good, very good to get all this weight off my shoulders," Brant said outside the courthouse. "Make sure that nobody has any more doubts. You know I'm innocent, I did nothing so it makes me feel a lot better, a lot lighter now."
Justice Marc Rosenberg told Brant that this has been "a terrible ordeal for you" as the court set aside his conviction for the two-month-old boy's death.
Both the Crown and defence asked the three-judge panel to acquit Brant, who had always maintained his innocence despite his plea.
Brant was walking with Dustin in his stroller when he found the boy lifeless with thick, red foam around his nose in November 1992, court heard. The baby was rushed to Belleville General Hospital and was taken off life support the next day.
Smith — who was considered a pre-eminent child forensic pathology expert at the time — put forward a powerful case that the baby had died from shaken baby syndrome.
Defence lawyer James Lockyer told the appeal court Smith had ignored autopsy results from the neuropathologist who had found the baby died of pneumonia and respiratory failure, and suggested those results be filed "in the garbage".
His client was facing an impossible dilemma — a manslaughter conviction or a six- month sentence for aggravated assault, said Lockyer.
Both the defence and Crown told the court there is no evidence that Brant had ever harmed Dustin.
An inquiry found that errors in Smith's work were responsible for several people being wrongfully convicted and sent to prison. His medical licence was revoked earlier this year.
Brant, who now works as a truck driver in Moncton, said the last 19 years have been difficult.
Early on there were "the bad looks, the time incarcerated," he said.
He doesn't think of Smith, but said he should be held responsible.
"I think he needs to go to jail for a little while to see what he put a lot of people through," said Brant. "He ruined a lot of people's lives."
Brant intends to seek compensation, said Lockyer.
"It's not going to make up for what he's been through, but it's something," the lawyer said.

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