Toronto Sun

Friday, October 8, 1999

Baby killings double: 23 in '98

By MARK DUNN, OTTAWA BUREAU
Toronto Sun

OTTAWA --  Canadian babies under the age of one are dying in record numbers at the hands of murderers -- mostly their parents, Statistics Canada said yesterday.

Twenty-three infants under the age of one were homicide victims in 1998 -- up from 13 in 1997 and double the national average during the past decade.

The startling figures were included in a survey that shows Canada's murder rate dropped to its lowest level in 30 years in 1998.

Knives were the weapon of choice for killers while fully automatic weapons were gaining alarmingly fast popularity.

Stats Can said there were 555 homicides last year -- a 6% drop or 31 fewer than in 1997 and 13% lower than the average for the decade.

Of the 23 infant victims, 18 were killed by a parent. The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics said the accused were not known in three of the murders. Youths between the ages of 12 and 17 accounted for 11% of all murder victims.

While firearms were used in 27% of all homicides -- the lowest percentage since 1961 -- fully automatic weapons were used in 12 homicides, up from only two from 1997.

Nine out of every 10 individuals accused of homicide were male, as were two-thirds of victims. Statistics showed 38% of victims and 50% of accused persons were on drugs or alcohol at the time of the offence.

Homicide rates, based on murders per 100,000 people, were higher in the West than in the East. Winnipeg, followed by Edmonton and Vancouver, reported the highest rates.

Toronto recorded 76 homicides, Edmonton 22, Calgary 19, Winnipeg 18, Ottawa-Hull 7, and London 6.

In 1998, 40% of victims were killed by family members and 45% by acquaintances. Strangers accounted for just 15% of killings.

Spousal homicides continue to drop, reaching 70 last year from more than 100 a year in the early 1990s.

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