Publication ban lifted on parents convicted of manslaughter in toddler’s
Matinah, 2, died when her parents, Sean and Mariah
Hosannah, failed to provide the "necessaries of life," a court ruled in
Sean and Maria Hosannah killed their 2-year-old daughter, Matinah.
The couple was convicted of manslaughter by failing to provide the
necessaries of life by a jury in Brampton last October, but until now the
names of the parents and the toddler who died
could not be published due to a sweeping publication ban
Superior Court Justice John Sproat modified the ban on Friday at the request
of the Toronto Star, making the names public.
Sproat had initially ordered the ban on Sept. 19 at the request of the
Crown, who wanted to protect the identities of Matinah’s surviving siblings,
highlighting the fact that Hosannah is an uncommon surname. It later
reversed its position and consented to the Star’s request to narrow the ban.
The Star was never seeking to name the surviving siblings.
“The routine granting of publication bans on the identity of adult accused
persons and offenders would be a radical change in the law,” Sproat wrote in
his 15-page decision. “If a publication ban is necessary in this case, it
would be necessary in any case in which a heinous crime was committed by a
person with children and an uncommon surname.”
The Star brought the application because in an open and transparent justice
system, the public has a right to know the identities of those accused and
convicted of crimes, said Daniel Stern, counsel to the Star.
The judge’s decision “shows that the names of convicted accused are
important for transparency and accountability,” he said.
Indeed, Sproat wrote, “I believe most citizens would be extremely interested
in learning the names of adults convicted of criminal offences and
Jurors at the manslaughter trial were told that Matinah was severely
malnourished and never crawled or walked. She stopped breathing on Feb. 25,
2011, and was rushed to Brampton Civic Hospital, where she was pronounced
An autopsy concluded four months later that she died from complications of
asthma and malnutrition. The trial heard she had a rare case of rickets
blamed on a lack of Vitamin D, which had also caused two broken bones. She
had not seen a doctor since March 2010 and had not received any
The Star argued its case at two hearings on Dec. 1 and Jan. 8.
“The Star challenged this ruling because we cannot allow the judicial elite
to keep secret the names of people who kill children,” said Star editor
Michael Cooke. “Justice must be open and must be seen. It is fundamental to
Justice for Children and Youth, a non-profit legal clinic, was granted
amicus curiae (friend of the court) status by Sproat in December. The
group argued against the ban, again highlighting the family’s uncommon
“A significant number of people must already know the identities of all
concerned,” Sproat wrote. “This no doubt includes some family, friends,
neighbours, teachers and health care professionals. The death of a sister,
particularly given the culpability of the parents, will no doubt cause
‘dreadfully painful times’ for the surviving siblings. That is the baseline.
Nothing a publican ban can do will change that.”
The parents usually sat impassive at their trial and during the proceedings
dealing with the Star’s application. Maria could often be seen taking notes.
In a videotaped interview with Peel police spanning nearly three hours in
October 2011 that was shown in court, Maria maintained her innocence.
“As a mom I’m very, very, very, very, very concerned about my daughter, both
of my daughters,” she told Peel Const. Paul Quashie. “I’m always on point
with everything that I do, so I’m not a neglectful mom or whatever they
trying to portray us to be.”
She said Matinah was born healthy, but believed her daughter was
“experimented on” in hospital after her birth. She said Matinah was injected
with antibiotics without Sean and Maria’s permission, “and they cause a lot
of side effects, something that could cause, you know, a child’s death.”
Matinah Kabirah Hosannah was born on Nov. 26, 2008, at St. Joseph’s Hospital
in Toronto, and weighed 2.575 kg (5.9 pounds), according to an agreed
statement of fact filed in court. She was given antibiotics and fed
intravenously because her doctors were concerned she had low blood sugar and
a possible infection. She was discharged on Nov. 30.
Maria spoke at length to police about her family’s diet. She said she only
buys whole foods, and stays away from sugar. Most of the meals she cooks are
vegetarian, she said, and typically include oats, brown rice, lentils and
navy beans. She said she avoids fish “because of with mercury and stuff like
Her family refuses vaccinations for religious reasons, she said, telling
police she had converted to Islam from Roman Catholicism.
Maria said Matinah “was speaking, you know, she was jovial, she was happy.”
She said she wasn’t able to grieve the death of her daughter, who she said
passed away in “unfortunate circumstances.”
“How could you grieve in this, in this kind of situation, you know?” she
said. “Somebody see you, and they see you as being a criminal right away.
That’s what they flashing in their eyes right away, but they don’t know
in-depth, you know, what’s really going on. So you just have to just sit
down and just take it.”
When asked at the end of the interview if she and her husband had provided
the best possible environment for their daughter, including warmth,
nutrition, education and love, she replied: “We did the best that we can.”
The Hosannahs will be sentenced on Jan. 30. They face up to life in prison.
With files from the Brampton Guardian