REGINA — A medical expert says a six-year-old boy who was beaten to death by an older child on a Saskatchewan reserve had injuries similar to those seen in high-speed car crashes or a 10-metre fall.
Dr. Shaun Ladham testified Thursday at a coroner’s inquest into the death of Lee Bonneau, who was found with head injuries in a wooded area on the Kahkewistahaw reserve in 2013.
He was last seen walking with an older boy outside a recreation complex while his foster mother was playing bingo.
Ladham, who is a forensic pathologist, said the cause of Lee’s death was blunt force trauma to the head causing multiple skull fractures.
“That does not happen easily,” he said, adding that “considerable force” was used.
Saskatchewan’s children’s advocate determined that the 10-year-old boy who killed Lee had behavioural issues and probably should not have been in the community unsupervised. Because he was under 12, he could not be charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The inquest also heard from Alicia Ward, the child protection worker in charge of Lee’s case. The child had been in the care of the Ministry of Social Services for less than three months when he died.
The inquest has heard there were concerns about domestic violence in Lee’s home, and the boy was taken into care after his mother told a Social Services worker she wanted to commit suicide.
Under questioning from coroner’s council Sonya Guiboche, Ward acknowledged her office was dealing with a heavy case load at the time and needed more staff.
She conceded an assessment of the family had been delayed, but denied the delay made a difference in getting the boy back sooner.
“The safety threats continued to be there,” she said.
She said Social Services provided Lee’s parents with mental health support, but services could be improved.
“I had no doubt this family loved their child and wanted to parent their child.”
In a report released last year, children’s advocate Bob Pringle said the boy who killed Bonneau didn’t receive the help he needed.
Pringle said his investigation found nine child protection concerns reported to the Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services, but as far his office could determine, two concerns were never investigated. Other investigations were delayed by months.
Pringle also said the RCMP had alerted the agency to the boy’s behavioural issues. Mounties believed he was involved in a break and enter in May 2011 where a pregnant dog and her unborn pups were killed.
The inquest began Monday and is set to run for two weeks in Regina.