Credits: Michael Peake, Toronto Sun
EDMONTON -- An Edmonton couple accused of abusing their two-year-old twin daughters will be allowed to go to the funeral of one of their twins who died after being taken off life support.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Stephen Hillier amended the couple’s bail order Friday so they could attend their daughter’s funeral, which court heard is set for Saturday.
The order allows the parents to be escorted under guard from the Edmonton Remand Centre, where they are currently being held in custody, to the site of the funeral.
However, a court-ordered no-contact order between the two is still in place, court heard.
An autopsy was performed Friday on the child -- who was taken off life-support Thursday following a protracted legal battle -- and, by Islamic law, the funeral arrangements must be done within 24 hours, court heard.
Alberta Justice spokeswoman Michelle Davio confirmed that the director of the remand centre had received a request for the parents to attend the funeral, as well as the judge’s order, and said it would be carried out.
“It will happen as per the court order,” said Davio, adding the remand centre’s policy is to allow inmates to go to funerals for immediate family members.
The couple was also taken separately from the remand centre to the hospital on Thursday, following a court order, so they could say their final goodbyes to the child.
The two-and-a-half-year-old was taken off life support after the Supreme Court dismissed a stay application by the child’s mother once the Court of Appeal of Alberta had ordered that life-sustaining treatment be stopped.
Medical experts had testified the girl was paralyzed and in a “persistent vegetative state,” and completely dependent on a mechanical ventilator and feeding tube for her survival. Doctors also said she was not likely to ever recover from her “very severe” neurological problems.
The parents had argued the decision should be left to them, and they couldn’t agree to withdraw life-support because of religious convictions and love for their daughter.
According to court documents, the condition of the child and her twin, who has since recovered, and the injuries they suffered contradict what the parents told officials.
When EMS first responded to the family’s south-side home on May 25, they found both girls had bruising on their heads and faces. The more severely injured child had suffered cardiac arrest and needed resuscitation.
The parents said the twins were hurt when they fell down some stairs they had been playing on with their older brother three days earlier. They also maintained the girls were able to crawl and walk with assistance at the time.
However, “medical evidence suggests that this could not be possible,” according to the court documents.
A pediatrician is quoted in the documents saying the girls were “profoundly malnourished,” and would not have been mobile three days earlier. He is also quoted saying the bruises on the girls were “clearly due to multiple impacts” and “cannot be explained by only one event.”
The report also has the pediatrician saying the nutritional condition of the girls was “clearly due to deprivation.”
The parents are charged with aggravated assault, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failing to provide the necessaries of life. Police have also said the charges could be upgraded as a result of the one child’s death.
A bail review for the Algerian-born couple, who are both 34 and cannot be named under a publication ban protecting the identity of the children, is set for Oct. 18.