Crane calls for independent review of toddler death in P.E.I. murder-suicide case

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Questions remain about how a four-year-old boy became the victim of a murder-suicide in P.E.I. earlier this year, says Independent MLA Olive Crane.

Olive Crane. File Photo

During question period in the legislature Thursday, Crane called on government to appoint a retired judge to review the case.

She noted this was done with the Rehtaeh Parsons case in Nova Scotia when questions and concerns emerged about that case.

“The bottom that I am trying to get to for so many people is, how do we find out what went wrong, and how do we make sure it never happens again?” Crane said.

Last June, Trish Hennessey and her four-year-old son Nash Campbell were found dead in the back seat of a torched vehicle in St. Felix, near Tignish.

After an 11-week investigation, autopsy and toxicology tests, together with information gathered from a criminal investigation, RCMP determined Hennessey murdered her son and killed herself.

Tests also found both mother and son had ingested sedative prescription drugs prior to their deaths and that the fire was set from somewhere inside the vehicle.

A close friend of Hennessey told The Guardian in June that Hennessey had lost custody of Nash in family court just hours before they were both found dead.

This has raised questions about whether an inquest should be held into the boy’s death.

Justice Minister Janice Sherry pointed out the provincial corner’s office is still investigating this case.

As such she would not address any specifics but she did say, generally, if any coroner’s investigations do not reach satisfactory results, she does have the authority to call for a review.

“If, for whatever reason, perhaps in the best responsibility to the public interest, I could call a review,” Sherry said.

She said it would be unprofessional and premature to say whether she would call for a review of this murder-suicide.

“The coroner is still doing his investigation, and until that work is done, it would not be anything I could even comment on.”

Crane says she believes a retired judge should perform an independent examination of the case, as it could help to answer questions many have about how this tragedy occurred.

“When there’s tragic circumstances in the loss of a child, you need someone who can have the authority to have a real thorough review,” Crane said.

“There’s family members on both sides, community members and an awful lot of people who would like to know – could we have done something differently and how can we make sure this happens again.”

An amendment is being made this session to the Child Protection Act due to some difficulties with information sharing identified during the coroner’s investigation into this case.

The amendment allows the director of Child and Family Services to share information with the coroner’s office, as they already can for criminal investigations or court proceedings.

The Guardian and CBC are attempting to access files from the custody proceedings involving Nash and Hennessey. A recent court date to hear arguments relating to the release of these documents was postponed to a later date.

Organizations: RCMP, The Guardian, Child and Family Services CBC

Geographic location: P.E.I., Nova Scotia, Tignish

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  • Investigation Yes
    December 06, 2013 - 13:14

    The director of Child and Family Services is untouchable & unaccountable in this province . They are lacking people with experience and common sense in their department & the only thought most of them have is the power they hold over you . When they get a front line worker with common sense , they ride them until they transfer because they question some of the decisions being made by their bosses that in a lot of cases have never raised a chick or child & sometimes come from broken homes themselves . Child protection is needed but it also needs to have its personal vetted better & promotion not done on seniority . This department needs a house cleaning but because nearly ever one has family problems of one sort or another . They are scared to tackle & try and improve the department .