Calgary Sun

Friday, July 2, 1999

Boyfriend charged in death of tot


A grieving James Thompson, centre, with parents Diana and Michael, look at Cole's baby photos.

The first time James Thompson saw his young boy in about a year was to attend his funeral.

And yesterday, the 26-year-old learned Cole, two-and-a-half, was slain, allegedly at the hands of his ex-wife's boyfriend, who is now out on bail only hours after being charged.

Police believe the brown-haired pre-schooler was shaken to death.

The tragedy started to unfold June 4 when Cole was rushed unconscious by paramedics to Alberta Children's Hospital with critical, but undetermined, injuries.

"Kim told us he had fallen and hit his head two days before," James told the Sun, referring to his 29-year-old ex-wife who had custody of the boy.

Homicide and child abuse detectives were called to the hospital immediately after doctors examined the boy and became suspicious of his injuries.

Cole died three days later, after his mother made the decision to discontinue life support.

Yesterday, homicide cops charged Gordon Neil Singer, a 26-year-old private roofing contractor, with manslaughter.

Kim, who has recently had another child with the accused, could not be reached for comment and her parents refused to talk about the incident.

A custody battle and some personal problems didn't allow James, a framer who is now planning to go back to school, to see his son until the day of his funeral, the grieving dad said.

"I was really upset I couldn't be there before they took Cole off life support," he said, adding no one in his family was notified Cole was in hospital.

"We couldn't even be there to say prayers for him."

James said his ex didn't want his family at Cole's funeral, so they had their own private memorial the next day.

When he saw his little boy in a coffin, James realized he hadn't seen Cole since last August.

"He was a little angel," said James, as his mother, Diana, wept quietly at his side.

"He was the greatest little guy, very inquisitive and observant of his surroundings," James remembered.

The tragedy will always haunt the family, said Cole's grandfather.

"It's just terrible," said Michael Thompson. "We all have to live with it the rest of our lives."

Experts say shaken baby syndrome is a form of child abuse most often perpetrated by a parent or caregiver.

When a baby is shaken, the head jerks back and forth rapidly, causing the brain to slam against the inside of the skull, often damaging blood vessels around the brain.

As many as one-third of shaken baby victims die.

James and Kim split up after almost two years of marriage, and James said she immediately moved in with another man, the person accused of killing his son.

"He seemed like a pretty nice guy and I didn't think of him as the sort of guy who would do something like that."

Cole is Calgary's seventh -- and youngest -- homicide victim of 1999.

And tragically, three of the homicide victims have been children.

Three-year-old Phelan Layng and his four-year-old step-brother Derek Lynes were found slain on Good Friday.

Police have charged their baby- sitter Robert Richard Cooper, 22, with two counts of first-degree murder.

Singer was charged with manslaughter by homicide detectives and later released on bail by a justice of the peace.

It was Calgary's first domestic-related homicide of the year.

Copyright© 1999, Canoe Limited Partnership.