Get tougher on child killers

The tears shed by a Court of Queen’s Bench justice during the sentencing of a young man who murdered his infant daughter are shared by the community.

The tears shed by a Court of Queen’s Bench justice during the sentencing of a young man who murdered his infant daughter are shared by the community.

When Mr. Justice Earl Wilson sentenced Julian Oliver Thomson to five years penitentiary in Red Deer court on Tuesday, his eyes welled up with tears.

Thomson, 22, in a fit of rage last Nov. 25, triggered by the infant crying, shook her violently, crashing her head against the side of an exercise saucer, then threw her to the floor.

Zaria McCall, just shy of three months old, suffered severe head trauma, including three fractures to her skull and extensive internal bleeding.

The injuries came at the hands of one of the people she should have been able to most rely upon for protection.

Children are a gift, to be cradled and embraced with unconditional love. And above all else, those given the responsibility for bringing them into this world must fiercely defend their right to life.

When they die at the hands of a parent or other caregiver, tears should be shed by us all: out of compassion, frustration and confusion.

How could somebody entrusted with caring for an innocent, helpless child turn on her with such deadly rage?

“A child looks to her parents for love, safety and affection,” said the judge. “It is the court that must speak for Zaria.”

It’s rare in court for a judge to show such emotion, but they are as human as the next person.

And cases dealing with the abuse of children and seniors, particularly, speak to the awful perils of society’s most vulnerable members.

Judges repeatedly see and hear of heinous criminal actions that are far beyond the comprehension of most reasonable people. But while justice requires a reasoned perspective, it defies human nature to expect anyone in such a circumstance to be completely detached. Emotion is, and always should be, part of the human condition.

The five-year sentence imposed on Thomson, after pleading guilty to manslaughter, may seem light.

But judges are bound by sentencing guidelines set down by the higher courts.

Crown prosecutor Jason Snider said that while manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, the sentence was in line with those handed out to others under similar circumstances.

Zaria’s family understands, to a point. “Although we wish that the sentence handed to Julian Thomson could have been longer, there is no amount of punishment that can undo this horrible, horrible crime and give us back our precious little angel,” the family wrote in a statement.

“We would like to thank (Justice) Wilson for being very thorough and explaining the basis of his decision and giving Julian the maximum sentence based on the precedent set by previous cases.”

But precedents should be challenged, when the standard becomes an affront to social values.

And certainly the death of a child deserves a harsher sentence.

“We would never wish this pain on anyone, and (we) believe that a stronger punishment would deter similar crimes in the future,” read the McCall family’s statement, which urged the public to lobby officials to consider harsher sentencing values.

We have an obligation as a society, and as individuals, to do everything possible to protect children. Dealing more harshly with killers like Julian Oliver Thomson would be a good place to start.

Rick Zemanek is a former Advocate editor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New federal climate think tank looking for a road map to zero emissions

OTTAWA — A new climate change think tank funded by the federal… Continue reading

Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales down 0.6 per cent in November

OTTAWA — Canadian manufacturing sales fell more than expected in November as… Continue reading

Thunberg scolds Davos elites over climate as Trump arrives

DAVOS, Switzerland — Four young climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, scolded the… Continue reading

Prison service trying to better understand the needs of black offenders

OTTAWA — Canada’s prison service is working to better understand the needs… Continue reading

Fracking caused March 2019 earthquake near Sylvan Lake, say scientists

4.18 earthquake south of Sylvan Lake rattled doors and windows as far as Red Deer

WATCH: Canadian kid shovelling snow video goes viral

Rory might just be Canada’s most popular toddler right now, thanks to… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

David Marsden: Warm tales about the cold

The recent deep freeze has rocked all of us. Every Red Deer… Continue reading

CFL reaches co-operative partnership agreement with Brazilian federation

TORONTO — Add Brazil to the CFL 2.0 initiative. The league announced… Continue reading

Richard T. Lee makes British Open, joining fellow Canadians Conners and Hadwin

SINGAPORE — Toronto’s Richard T. Lee is the third Canadian to qualify… Continue reading

Film probes radical black-Latino-poor white 1960s alliance

Civil rights activists were still mourning the 1968 assassinations of Rev. Martin… Continue reading

Nine times lucky? Alberta’s Northern Cree takes another shot at Grammy gold

TORONTO — Even the biggest pop stars might want to clear the… Continue reading

Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Military personnel armed with shovels spread out across… Continue reading

Most Read