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Change of heart results in more charges against man accused of child abuse

New charges have been laid against a Red Deer man accused of beating his girlfriend and abusing her two children.

The 25-year-old suspect, whose name is withheld to protect the identities of his alleged victims, was released from custody on Wednesday pending further court proceedings.

The suspect was arrested on June 16, 2012, by Red Deer City RCMP who were called to reports that a man was kicking a little boy while outside a home in the Glendale subdivision.

Investigators say they found a six-year-old boy smeared in feces, which was later determined to be from a diaper he had been made to wear.

The child was taken to hospital with numerous injuries, including burns on his arms and damage to the corneas of both eyes.

In Red Deer provincial court on Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Maurice Collard said the child’s mother has now come forward with additional information that she had previously withheld.

Collard said the mother originally supported her boyfriend and recanted statements given at the outset of the investigation, but has recently changed her mind and provided investigators with sufficient evidence to lay further charges.

As a result, the original charges of assault and assault with a weapon have been replaced by a much longer list of charges, including multiple counts of assault with a weapon, assault, uttering threats and making death threats.

The original charges were to have gone to trial before a Red Deer provincial court judge on July 22 and 26.

However, defence counsel Lorne Goddard changed his client’s election on Wednesday to Court of Queen’s Bench by judge alone, with a preliminary hearing to be held on the dates originally set for trial.

Preliminary hearings are generally used to determine whether the Crown’s case is strong enough to proceed to trial.

Collard offered the Crown’s consent to release the suspect from custody, with a no-cash bail of $5,000, meaning the penalty would be payable should he breach release conditions.

Ordinarily, an accused person does not get a second opportunity to seek bail.

However, now that he is facing a completely new set of charges, the man’s opportunity for release was reopened, said Collard.

Conditions of the accused man’s release include a weapons prohibition, along with an order that he have no contact with his former girlfriend, her children or other members of her family.

Provincial court Judge Jim Mitchell also ordered that he stay away from their homes and from the school both children attend.

Collard told the court that the two children are now in their grandparents’ care.

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