‘Crack mom’ conviction tossed out

Prominent Toronto doctor’s findings tossed after challenge by expert.

Malique Broomfield's grandmother Yuillie Fitz-Charles and his father, Steve Fitz-Charles stand outside court in 2010 with a picture of Malique after Tamara Broomfield was sentenced to seven years in prison.

When Tamara Broomfield was convicted in 2009 of giving her 2-year-old son, Malique, a near lethal dose of cocaine, she was branded Toronto’s “crack mom.”
Based largely on evidence presented by a prominent Toronto toxicologist, the judge found that, for more than a year, Broomfield had regularly fed her baby doses equivalent to those recorded in adult addicts. She was sentenced to seven years in jail.
Malique, who had a heart attack and almost died from a cocaine overdose in 2005, suffered permanent brain damage and behavioural problems.
In October, the court of appeal overturned the cocaine convictions after fresh evidence cast doubt on the science that all but sealed Broomfield’s fate.
Gideon Koren, founder and director of the Motherisk program at the Hospital for Sick Children, delivered the findings that are now in question.
Toronto criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown, who tried to get the trial judge to reopen Broomfield’s case in 2010 to re-examine the medical evidence, said “everyone should be concerned that faulty science helped convict (her).”
“Scientific evidence is often complicated and cloaked in a belief that reputable and experienced doctors providing expert evidence in court can’t be wrong,” he said. “The public too easily accepts these experts at face value. As the Broomfield case shows, this can result in a miscarriage of justice when the science underlying the opinion is faulty.”
In response to questions for this story, the Star received an email on Friday stating that Koren “is out of town and unfortunately cannot respond.”
The email included a report written by a toxicologist from Utah in support of Motherisk’s analysis, which was also filed in court during the appeal process.
Broomfield, 31, has abandoned her appeals of the remaining child-abuse convictions related to Malique, including failing to seek medical care for a broken wrist, and causing multiple rib fractures. Speaking through a friend, she declined to comment.
Broomfield was released on bail last year after the Crown cross-examined the expert witness who cast doubt on Koren’s findings.
Craig Chatterton, deputy chief toxicologist in the office of the chief medical examiner in Edmonton, challenged the methods used to prepare Malique’s hair sample that Motherisk analyzed as well as the methodology used to analyze it.
Chatterton also questioned “the validity of the results as given in evidence at trial,” the appeal court decision states.
In a 2012 report filed in court, Chatterton wrote, “It is not possible to determine whether Malique Broomfield had ingested (or been exposed to) cocaine over an extended time period, based on the results of the immunoassay analysis conducted by Motherisk Laboratory.”
(Reached by phone on Friday, Chatterton, who submitted his evidence as an independent consultant, declined to offer further comment.)
After the cross-examination, the Crown and Broomfield’s lawyer, James Lockyer, went before the court of appeal to ask that she be released on bail.
Although the court of appeal ordered that the Crown make Koren available for cross-examination, the Crown instead agreed that Chatterton’s findings should be admitted as fresh evidence and that the cocaine convictions should be quashed.
Malique, now 11, lives with his father, Steve Fitz-Charles, and his grandmother, Yuillie Fitz-Charles, who told the Star on Friday that the family is trying to “move forward.”
“We need to really focus on Malique and his well-being and everything that he’s gone through, that he’s going through, and that he will continue to face in the future,” she said.
His grandmother said he is improving but difficulties remain.
“He looks like me. He talks. But his reading skills have been impacted very badly. His social skills, too . . . We’re trying.”
Lockyer, who founded the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, said neither he nor his client was “comfortable talking about the case.”
Court documents state Malique was in the midst of a seizure when he arrived at hospital in Scarborough with his mother in August 2005.
The boy was transferred to SickKids, where tests showed cocaine in his urine, blood and cerebral spinal fluid, and doctors concluded he was suffering from an overdose.
Broomfield, who was separated from Malique’s father at the time, told police that she had never taken the drug herself. Fitz-Charles had a history of dealing drugs, and “was dealing in crack cocaine in substantial quantities” during a six-month period in 2004, when he often stayed with Broomfield and Malique, according to court documents.
Shortly after Malique landed in hospital, Broomfield told police that she called his father to tell him what happened.
“I said to him . . . ‘I’ve already found drugs in the building before, probably he got it from there, probably could have left something, anything there. The police are on the case. They’re gonna find — figure it out,’ ” she told police, court documents state.
She recalled a day Malique picked up a bag of crack in her building in the videotaped statement to police.
About a week after the apparent cocaine overdose, a sample of Malique’s hair was analyzed by Koren and his team at Motherisk, which he said found “extremely high” levels of cocaine and its byproduct. In December 2005, Motherisk did a segmented analysis of Malique’s hair, which Koren said showed chronic exposure to cocaine each month for 15 months in levels that, for an adult, would indicate “a very severe addiction and drug dependence,” the court documents state.
The highest levels of cocaine were recorded in early 2005. However, as the appeal court observed in its decision, the question of whether Malique showed “any behavioural signs consistent with chronic exposure to significant amounts of cocaine” before the overdose was “a live controversy” at trial.
At trial, the defence argued that because Motherisk’s tests consumed the entire hair sample, there was no chance for an independent assessment, but Justice Tamarin Dunnet was not swayed.
“Dr. Koren’s evidence was vigorously challenged and on occasion, his demeanour was abrupt and defensive,” Dunnet wrote in her decision. “Nevertheless, the salient points were unshaken on cross-examination. His evidence was credible and compelling.”
In his response to Chatterton’s evidence, Koren defended his findings, which he said have been accepted by experts in the field and a leading scientific pediatric journal.
“Acute, one time exposure to cocaine, cannot explain the hair test results,” he wrote in a 2013 letter filed in court. “All evidence indicate at very high medical probability that the toddler was exposed to cocaine chronically as part of an extreme case of chronic abuse and neglect.”
In 2003, Koren was reprimanded and fined $2,500 by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons for writing anonymous, harassing letters to colleagues during a heated fight over research by another doctor. A panel described his actions as “childish, vindictive and dishonest.”
“Ironically for this accomplished research scientist, it was only when confronted with irrefutable scientific evidence of his guilt did he admit that he was the perpetrator,” the panel found.
Court documents state that Broomfield presented her trial lawyer, Terry Kirichenko, with this information, but he chose not to raise it during the proceedings. (At the time of her trial, Kirichenko was facing an impending suspension by the Law Society of Upper Canada for failing to maintain his books and records and failing to co-operate with an investigation.)
Koren’s resumé in the court file is 147 pages long. According to the SickKids website, he has trained pediatricians from more than 40 countries and published over 1,400 peer-reviewed papers in the area of pediatric pharmacology.
Rachel Mendleson can be reached at rmendleson@thestar.ca .




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

Adolf Hitler and Stalin used Quacks to justify conclusions regarding race, mental health and anything else in the Criminal acts of Justification.


In Ottawa one Quack, "hired Pen" for the Children's Aid Society is

Dr. David Alexander McLean.

This psychopath is also a professional Fabricator of Evidence and one of the vilest

child abusers in Ontario.


Even worse are the Judges in Ottawa of the Ontario Superior Court who know he is a hired pen, and refuse to look at any expert evidence that might be more reliable than McLean and who don't work for the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa.

Ottawa has lots of psychopath Judges who used to work for the CAS and now in massive conflicts do nothing else but "Rubber Stamp" their decisions.


Ottawa Mens Centre