Toronto Sun

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

'Justice' done as woman freed

Accused in death of boy

By SAM PAZZANO, TORONTO SUN

A Toronto woman - who lost her freedom and her children after a Hospital for Sick Children probe implicated her in the death of her boyfriend's young son -- was exonerated yesterday.

Crown attorney Frank Armstrong stayed a second-degree murder charge against Maureen Laidley for the January 1998 death of Tyrell Salmon, saying he was preventing a "miscarriage of justice."

The stay effectively acquits Laidley.

"I was happy. It took a toll on my life, being away from my kids," said Laidley. "There's no anger. God is good and I've always believed in him and my lawyer, John Struthers."

Salmon died of what Mr. Justice Archie Campbell called "an unexplained massive life-threatening brain injury."

CUSTODY BATTLE BEGINS

Campbell stayed the charge and freed Laidley, who now begins her battle to regain custody of her children, aged 10 and eight.

A year after the almost four-year-old Tyrell died, the charge was laid after a probe by the hospital's Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) team.

Campbell sharply criticized the team's investigators, including one who denied she was acting as an investigator while being cross-examined by Struthers.

Campbell excluded a statement by Laidley to the SCAN team members because of the "dramatically unsatisfactory nature of the evidence, which makes it impossible to know with any degree of certainty what Ms. Laidley was told about the purpose of the interview and equally impossible to know what was in fact the real purpose of the interview."

Laidley described an accidental fall in which the child banged his head on a marble coffee table.

Campbell slammed the investigators -- who took a statement from Laidley, now 28, when she brought Tyrell to hospital.

Struthers said strong defence evidence by three doctors in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Chicago and an accident reconstructionist contradicted the view of coroner Dr. Charles Smith, a key prosecution witness.

FATHER ON MURDER RAP

Tyrell died while his father Garth Salmon, 33, was in jail awaiting trial for the second-degree murder in the shooting death of Linda Delellis on March 7, 1996. Salmon was cleared when that charge was withdrawn by the Crown attorney Phil Perlmutter in October, 1999, who said there was "no reasonable prospect of conviction."

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.