TORONTO — A woman convicted of starving her grandson to death is “intimately and intricately” linked to the Toronto boy’s case, a coroner said Wednesday in allowing her to participate at the inquest into his case.
Elva Bottineau was granted standing at the coroner’s inquest probing the death of five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin, who died 11 years ago while in her care.
In his decision, coroner Peter Clark said standing must be given to anyone with a “direct and substantial interest” in a particular inquest.
“While the concept of Ms. Bottineau’s participation at this juncture may be painful, I am bound to consider each application on its own merits, in a dispassionate and objective manner and with due consideration for the principles of fairness and natural justice,” he wrote in the ruling.
“It may be that Ms. Bottineau has useful information to assist the jury, whether by testimony, questioning of witnesses or submission.”
A lawyer presenting her application has argued Bottineau — as Jeffrey’s caregiver and relative — has unique insights that could help the jury make its recommendations.
But the request was strongly opposed by lawyers representing the boy’s surviving siblings and the office of Ontario’s advocate for children and youth.
They said allowing her to take part in the proceedings would grant her a soapbox to defend her actions and revisit her conviction.
Lawyers also questioned Bottineau’s ability to follow instructions, given her “limited intelligence.”