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Officers charged with misconduct in Tess Richey missing persons investigation

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  • TORONTO — Two Toronto police officers are facing misconduct charges over allegations they failed to properly investigate the case of a young woman who went missing last year after a night out in the city’s gay village.

    Const. Michael Jones and Const. Alan McCullough are charged under the Police Services Act with not performing a duty and not carrying out an order in the case of Tess Richey, whose body was found by her mother four days after a missing persons report was filed.

    According to notices of hearing issued to the officers, they were out on patrol on the afternoon of Nov. 26, 2017 — the day after Richey was reported missing by family — when they were asked to investigate an address.

    The documents allege that while Jones and McCullough were on scene they learned that it was Richey’s last known location but they did not search the adjoining property, canvass the neighbourhood or notify a supervising officer of the details.

    The officers’ actions were “in contravention” of the force’s procedures on missing persons, the documents allege.

    Richey’s mother found her body just 40 metres from the property the officers were called to.

    Kalen Schlatter, a man Richey is believed to have met the night she went missing, is charged with first-degree murder in her death. At a brief police tribunal appearance Tuesday, Jones and McCullough’s case was put over until Schlatter’s criminal proceedings are complete.

    One of Richey’s sisters welcomed the misconduct charges against the officers.

    “It was obvious from the outset that something had gone very wrong when my mom had to drive over 300 kilometres to find her daughter in the same area she was reported missing in,” Varina Richey said in a statement.

    “When homicide took over they were fantastic and I’m satisfied that steps are being taken to ensure no other family has to go through what mine did when the absolute worst happens.”

    Tess Richey’s death had sparked questions about how investigators had handled her disappearance amid wider concerns about several men who went missing from the gay village.

    Days after her death, Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said the Professional Standards Unit — which responds to allegations of officer misconduct — was acting on concerns about her case.

    Chief Mark Saunders announced days later that the force would review its handling of missing persons cases on a broader scale.

    In a separate case, self-employed landscaper Bruce McArthur, 66, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of eight men, many who had disappeared from the gay village. Police have said the Richey case is not related to the accusations against McArthur.

    Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press


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    Mistrial declared in Dennis Oland murder retrial, jury is dismissed

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  • SAINT JOHN, N.B. — A mistrial has been declared in the retrial of Dennis Oland for the second degree murder of his father.

    The stunning development comes just over a month after jury selection was completed for the complex trial, which was expected to take at least four months.

    Justice Terrence Morrison of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench announced the mistrial on Tuesday at what was expected to be the start of evidence presentation in Oland’s second trial for the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, Richard Oland.

    The 16-member jury has been dismissed, and the trial will continue Wednesday by judge alone. 

    Morrison said there were improprieties in the selection process.

    Oland will have to be re-arraigned and enter his plea.

    Then there will be opening arguments and, finally, the retrial of Dennis Oland will get underway.

    “It cannot be helped,” Morrison told the jury as he thanked them for their service.

    “Your services are no longer required.”

    Richard Oland’s body was discovered on July 7, 2011, in his uptown Saint John office.

    The 69-year-old businessman and former executive of Moosehead Breweries Ltd. had been beaten to death.

    Dennis Oland, his only son, was charged with second-degree murder in 2013 and tried in 2015, but the jury verdict in that case was set aside on appeal in 2016 and a new trial ordered.

    The Canadian Press


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    Bolder action needed to reduce child poverty: Campaign 2000 report card

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  • OTTAWA — Brynn Vincent was only 13 when she started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Two years later, she was addicted and had run away from home and then she found out she was pregnant.

    She sought treatment for addiction at a rehab facility then moved into a homeless shelter.

    “Being in treatment with other women who are cranky and coming off of all types of drugs and alcohol while being pregnant was so hard,” she says. “But I finally decided I need to change, I need to get better — I’m having a baby, obviously I can’t bring a baby into this type of lifestyle.”

    Now 19 and sober, Vincent is living in her own apartment with her daughter and is finishing her education at the Youville Centre in Ottawa, a charity that provides mental-health treatment and other supports to adolescent mothers and their children.

    But her daughter is one of 1.4 million children living in poverty in Canada, 29 years after the House of Commons voted to end child poverty by 2000. Campaign 2000, a group formed to hold the government to its promise, is releasing an annual report card on it today.

    The report calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to expand affordable, quality child care.

    Anita Khanna, national co-ordinator with Campaign 2000, acknowledges the Liberal government has introduced important measures to tackle this problem, including boosting the Canada Child Benefit — a tax-free monthly benefit to help with living and child care costs — two years earlier than planned. The benefit will now increase annually, tied to inflation.

    But while this benefit does help low-income families, it does not fully address the need for better access to child care as a way to help lift families out of poverty, she said.

    “A system of cash transfers is not the provision of good child care. It doesn’t build spaces for child care, and right now that is a huge part of the problem,” she said.

    Vincent credits the work of volunteers and staff at both the shelter and at the Youville Centre for helping her navigate the patchwork of supports for low-income teen single mothers.

    But her struggles are not over. Her limited income means she regularly has to get help from food banks and other charities.

    Her income is only about $7,000 a year. Without a provincial child-care subsidy, she could never have dreamed of completing her education, she says. 

    But if the federal government were to adopt universal child care, it would help mothers like her who are struggling to make ends meet while also trying to build more for their futures and those of their children, she says.

    “That would take a lot of stress on parents living in poverty, it would just be one less thing to have to worry about constantly,” Vincent said. “A lot of working parents in poverty work solely to pay for child care. So if I’m working every day and I’m only making enough money to put my child in daycare so that I can work … in my eyes that’s ridiculous.”

    Canada now has only enough regulated child care spaces for about 30 per cent of the Canadian kids up to the age of five, Khanna said. Campaign 2000 is calling for Ottawa to send $1 billion a year to the provinces and territories to build more daycare spaces.

    The Trudeau government recently announced Canada’s first-ever anti-poverty law, which includes a pledge to reduce the number of Canadians living in poverty 50 per cent by the year 2030. No dollar figure is attached to the bill.

    Campaign 2000 applauds the law but is calling for the Liberals to spend $6 billion on this strategy and to adopt more aggressive targets: it wants to see the 50-per-cent poverty reduction target achieved within five years rather than 12.

    “We really feel there’s impatience on this for action on this,” Khanna said. “Frankly, aiming to lift only half of those children out of poverty in 12 years is not ambitious enough and we know that collectively we can do much better.”

    — Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.

    Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press




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