David Stephan and his wife Collet Stephan arrive at court in Lethbridge. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Supreme Court sets tentative hearing date for parents of boy in meningitis death

CALGARY — The Supreme Court of Canada has set a tentative hearing date for the parents of an Alberta toddler who were convicted after they failed to seek medical attention for their son who died of bacterial meningitis.

David Stephan and his wife, Collet, were both found guilty last year of failing to provide the necessaries of life in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death.

Their trial in Lethbridge, heard they treated the 19-month-old boy with garlic, onion and horseradish rather than taking him to a doctor. The Stephans eventually called 911 but the little boy died in hospital.

The three-member Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the conviction in November but because the ruling wasn’t unanimous, the couple had an automatic right to have the Supreme Court hear arguments in the case.

The Supreme Court has set a tentative date of May 15, 2018, for both parents.

David Stephan was sentenced to four months in jail and his wife was ordered to spend three months under house arrest — the only exceptions being trips to church and medical appointments. The Crown has indicated it plans to appeal the sentences, saying they are too lenient.

Witnesses at the trial said the little boy’s body was so stiff he couldn’t sit in his car seat, so the toddler had to lie on a mattress when his mother drove him from their rural Alberta home to a naturopathic clinic in Lethbridge, where she bought an echinacea mixture.

The Stephans never called for medical assistance until Ezekiel stopped breathing. He was rushed to a local hospital and died after being transported to Calgary’s Children’s Hospital.

David Stephan has taken to Facebook on a number of occasions to comment on the trial process he and his wife have gone through as well as the impending Supreme Court challenge.

“I would also love to thank our lawyers for initiating conversation with the Crown prosecution to have me stay out of jail while we are filing a Supreme Court application,” Stephan said in a November post from his home in Nelson, B.C.

“And oddly enough I would like to thank the Crown prosecution, who in times past have been excessively cruel and inhumane towards us, but yet in this situation have fully consented to extending our bail that we have been out on for nearly the past year and a half as we went through the appeal process.”

Stephan said he believed the Crown is being co-operative either because it saw how cruel a situation his family was in, or realized how bad it looked putting a family in an “inhumane situation.”

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