The sign at the Calgary Courts Centre in Calgary is shown on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Graveland

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

Jeromie and Jennifer Clark were found guilty of criminal negligence causing death

A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death of their 14-month-old son who never saw a doctor until the day before he died in hospital of a staph infection.

Jeromie and Jennifer Clark were found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessaries of life for their son John.

The pair clasped hands as they stood in the prisoner’s dock Thursday evening.

“John would have been in Grade 1 and would have just celebrated his sixth birthday in September,” Crown prosecutor Shane Parker told reporters after the verdict.

“There is a young boy who the community lost.”

The Crown argued that John was on the verge of death when he arrived in hospital on Nov. 28, 2013, and that his parents played with his life by not seeking treatment sooner.

Jurors were shown pictures of John after he died. He had blackened toes and a red rash that covered almost three-quarters of his body.

The forensic pathologist’s report said John was malnourished and died from a staph infection.

The trial heard that John died the day after he was brought to hospital, where he had a seizure and two cardiac arrests.

The Clarks’ lawyers argued doctors at the Alberta Children’s Hospital were to blame because they raised the boy’s sodium and fluid levels too aggressively. They also argued he was neither malnourished nor septic.

Parker said it is a tragedy that doctors at the Alberta Children’s Hospital were blamed for his death.

“They’re the heroes in this file and to portray them as the villains really was quite unfair for their efforts to try and save that 14-month-old baby,” Parker said.

Jeromie Clark’s lawyer David Chow and Jennifer Clark’s lawyer John Phillips declined to comment Thursday.

A sentencing hearing is expected to take place in February. In the meantime, the Clarks remain out on bail.

David Stephan, who with his wife Collet are to be tried a second time next spring in the 2012 death of their son, sat in the gallery with a notebook during the Clarks’ trial.

He posted several Facebook videos from outside the courthouse decrying what he sees as the unfair treatment of the Clarks.

The Stephans were found guilty in 2016 of failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died from meningitis, but the Supreme Court of Canada overturned their conviction and ordered a new trial.

Their first trial in Lethbridge, Alta., heard evidence that they treated the boy with garlic, onion and horseradish rather than take him to a doctor. The Stephans eventually called 911 but the toddler died in hospital.

The high court said the judge did not properly instruct jurors on what would be a marked departure from reasonable behaviour “in a way that the jury could understand and apply.”

The Canadian Press

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