TORONTO — As a five-year-old boy withered away and died of starvation at the hands of his grandparents, his aunt — who lived under the same roof — says she didn’t notice his alarming condition because she “didn’t pay that much attention.”
Doctors have compared Jeffrey Baldwin’s emaciated frame when he died to that of an African famine victim and have said that anyone who saw Jeffrey, especially in the last months of his life, would have known he was in dire need of help.
But Tammy Kidman told the coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death that she believed her mother Elva Bottineau, Jeffrey’s grandmother, when she said doctors had checked Jeffrey out and pronounced him healthy.
A lawyer at the inquest asked Kidman, somewhat incredulously, if she didn’t notice that Jeffrey was wasting away before her eyes.
“I didn’t pay that much attention, to be honest,” replied Kidman, who had studied early childhood education for a semester.
Her partner, meanwhile, told the inquest he noticed Jeffrey’s slow decline and was “bugged” by the boy’s treatment, but didn’t want to “create friction” by reporting it.
When Jeffrey died in November 2002, weeks shy of his sixth birthday, he weighed 21 pounds — about the same as he did on his first birthday.
His grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, had been granted custody of Jeffrey and his three siblings despite having previous child abuse convictions. Tammy Kidman wrote letters to children’s aid authorities in support of her mother’s bid to gain custody of the kids from Kidman’s sister.
Bottineau and Norman Kidman were ultimately convicted of second-degree murder in Jeffrey’s death and are serving life sentences.
Neither Tammy Kidman nor her partner Mike Reitemeier testified at that trial.