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Caseworker testifies at fatality inquiry of father who murdered two young sons

EDMONTON — A Children's Services caseworker has told a fatality inquiry he was shocked when he learned about a father who had murdered his own sons, ages six and three.

Todd Weekes testified Wednesday that he has repeatedly asked himself if he should have done anything differently in the case of Jason Cardinal, but concluded there was nothing he could think of that he had missed.

Jason Cardinal is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree murder after the strangled bodies of the boys, Caleb and Gabriel, were found in his Edmonton home just before Christmas five years ago.

Children's Services apprehended Caleb and Gabriel after concerns with Cardinal's mental health and other issues.

Weekes testified he believed Cardinal was managing his mental health problems appropriately and he showed a commitment to improving.

A judge had ordered Cardinal receive access to the boys but left it up to Children's Services to decide whether those visits were supervised or unsupervised.

Weekes said doctors' reports and information from support workers that spent a lot of time with Cardinal suggested the father was of little risk to the children.

Unsupervised visits followed. But two weeks after a court hearing in early December 2010, in which Cardinal did not receive custody, the father murdered Caleb and Gabriel and then tried to kill himself.

It all happened during an unsupervised visit. Cardinal injected both boys with morphine. He then strangled the boys and cut his own wrists. The three were found lying on Cardinal's bed.

The boys' mother disputes Weekes' assertion that the violence could not have been predicted.

Andrea Badger's lawyer pointed out an e-mail to Weekes from Badger questioning how safe Cardinal could be if he was not taking his medication.

Weekes said he likely spoke to Badger about the email but he did not show it to his supervisor or include the information in court files.

Badger's lawyers also noted documents that suggested Cardinal needed a family doctor and a psychiatrist to help him manage his medication.

Cardinal had neither. In fact, his former family doctor wrote a letter to Children's Services describing Cardinal as a "potentially very dangerous man."

The fatality hearing is intended to find ways to prevent similar tragedies from happening.

Meanwhile, Badger is suing the province claiming Children's Services contributed to the deaths of her children by allowing unsupervised visits with their father.

 
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