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Alberta

Alex’s Story – helping those living with disabilities and their families access support services

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Supports for Individuals with Disabilities:

When COVID-19 hit, Alex struggled to stay connected with his community. Thanks in part to the supports that Alex and his family receive, they have found resilience in these challenging times and new ways to spread positivity to their neighbours.

United Way worked rapidly with our partners to identify the needs of the most vulnerable and rallied the community to provide supports such as technology for individuals living with disabilities to safely access supports. Because supporters do local good, individuals like Alex have the help they need.

Help make a difference in your community today by visiting myunitedway.ca/donate-united-way.

Mary’s Story – Helping domestic violence survivors heal and find safety

United Way looks at the big picture in order to deliver a coordinated network of services and programs to address a range of needs for children and families who are struggling. By joining the community response to poverty, you can make a tremendous impact on the lives of local people.

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Alberta

Alberta Court of Appeal denies new trial for man in murders of woman, her daughter

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CALGARY — A man convicted of killing a woman and her daughter will not be getting a new trial.

Edward Downey, 51, was appealing two convictions of first-degree murder in the 2016 deaths of Sara Baillie and her five-year-old daughter, Taliyah Marsman, to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

A trial in 2018 heard graphic evidence of how Baillie was found dead in her Calgary home in a laundry basket in her daughter’s bedroom. Baillie had duct tape wrapped around her face, neck and wrists. Three days later, the child was found dead in some bushes east of the city.

Both died of asphyxiation.

A jury found Downey guilty and he was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 50 years. The trial judge called him a “callous and remorseless individual.”

At the appeal hearing, Downey’s lawyer argued that the jury heard much about her client’s “bad character conduct” which ended up setting the tone for the trial.

“Escorting was alleged to be the undercurrent of Mr. Downey’s life. It was highly prejudicial evidence with propensity and character that undermined trial fairness,” defence lawyer Kelsey Sitar told the Appeal Court judges in January.

Sitar also said the trial judge erred in her address to the jury and should have explained how to put the evidence in context. 

The Court of Appeal disagreed.

“The jury was entitled to draw its own conclusions from the evidence that was properly before it. The instructions they received were accurate and free of error,” wrote Justice Patricia Rowbotham in the decision released Tuesday.

“These instructions provided adequate guidance to the jury on the permissible and impermissible uses of all the character evidence adduced at trial. The ground of appeal is dismissed.”

The Crown had argued that Downey killed Baillie because he blamed her for a breakdown of his relationship with her best friend, and because Baillie had dissuaded the woman from working for Downey as an escort. 

The Crown also said Downey believed Baillie’s daughter was a witness who needed silencing. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2021.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit working on record number of cases

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Article submitted by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team

ICE responds to surge in record number of case files

ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit has begun the new year with a number of arrests across Alberta. Twenty-four suspects have been charged with 60 offences related to the online sexual exploitation of children.

After receiving a record number of case referrals in 2020, ICE has been collaborating with its policing partners across the province to make arrests. Last year, ICE experienced nearly a 40% increase in its number of case referrals with over 2,100 intakes.

  • 2020-21 – 2,136;
  • 2019-20 – 1,555;
  • 2018-19 – 1,237;
  • 2017-18 – 903;
  • 2016-17 – 894;
  • 2015-16 – 749.

“This is a concerning consequence of our digital dependency during the pandemic. ALERT has responded by directing more tools and resources to our ICE units and we are prepared to travel to every corner of the province in order to stop child sex predators,” said ALERT CEO Supt. Dwayne Lakusta.

“The sexual exploitation of children is a crime that tears at the fabric of society and preys on our most vulnerable. Increased provincial funding is enabling ALERT to double the size of its ICE unit, ensuring it has the tools and resources to track down predators who commit these heinous acts and bring them to justice,” said Hon. Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

With new provincial funding, ALERT has sought to double the size of the ICE unit with the addition of investigators, forensic technicians, analysts, and disclosure clerks, along with new technologies and software applications. With now more than 50 positions, Alberta’s ICE unit is one of the largest of its kind in Canada.

Between January 1 and March 31, 2021, ICE arrested 24 suspects. There is no definitive link between the suspects other than the nature of offences allegedly committed.

The arrests came as the result of investigative referrals from the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre, which works with internet and social media providers to track and investigate online instances of child sexual exploitation.

Each of the suspects was charged with at least one child pornography offence:

  • Michael Antonio, 25-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Curt Backlund, 48-year-old man from Grande Prairie;
  • Brad Bailey, 19-year-old man from Marlboro;
  • Brett Beer, 54-year-old man from Onoway;
  • Eric Bultmann, 30-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Kevin Dykstra, 35-year-old man from Barrhead;
  • Brian Harrison, 35-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Jeremy Henderson, 42-year-old man from Okotoks;
  • Bryan Hillman, 39-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Christopher Hoffner, 34-year-old man from Medicine Hat;
  • James Kydd, 39-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Mica LePage, 44-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Jordan MacDonald, 30-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Cris Marshall, 29-year-old man from Stettler;
  • Stedson McDonald, 32-year-old man from Grande Prairie;
  • James Merrison, 21-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Traline Munn, 44-year-old man from Cold Lake;
  • Krishnamoort Nalla Naidu, 38-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Van Linh Nguyen, 24-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Ivan Scott, 47-year-old man from Cochrane;
  • Jerry Lee Thompson, 47-year-old from Fort MacLeod;
  • Hunter Tonneson, 20-year-old man from Blackfalds;
  • Chase Viau, 23-year-old man from Edmonton; and
  • Richard Westland, 45-year-old man from Medicine Hat.

During the investigations, ICE relied upon the assistance of a number of partner agencies, including: Calgary Police, Edmonton Police, Lethbridge Police, Medicine Hat Police, and RCMP detachments in Barrhead, Beaverlodge, Blackfalds, Cochrane, Edson, Fort MacLeod, Grande Prairie, Onoway, Okotoks, Slave Lake, Stettler, and Wood Buffalo.

Anyone with information about these investigations, or any child exploitation offence is encouraged to contact local police or cybertip.ca.

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