She was convicted of feeding her son cocaine. No one told her the hair tests were flawed


Twenty years in the past, in a child-abuse case that made headlines for the stunning nature of the crime, a crack-addicted Toronto mom was convicted of repeatedly feeding her younger son cocaine, based mostly on drug-testing proof from two Motherisk specialists.

In his causes for judgment, the choose cited take a look at outcomes of the 4-year-old’s hair, which purported to indicate “sustained use over a three-month interval.”

This was not a case of “unintended publicity,” Justice John Hamilton concluded in the 1998 resolution. “The quantity present in the hair signifies quite a few usages.”

Joyce, whose final identify is being withheld to guard her son’s identification, has all the time maintained her innocence. She could have had drug issues. She could have made poor selections. However she insists she by no means fed her baby cocaine.

Starting in the early ’90s, Motherisk carried out not less than 35,000 hair tests on 25,000 people, primarily for baby welfare suppliers, who relied on the outcomes as proof of parental substance abuse. These were typically households on the margins, with out the means or know-how to successfully problem the outcomes of Motherisk’s hair tests, which influenced choices to remove their kids.

In lots of respects, Joyce match this profile: she was a single mom and an admitted crack addict, who relied on public help. However this was not a child-protection case. She was on trial for a critical crime.

Joyce served 9 months in jail earlier than she was launched on probation. After many years of being maligned and disbelieved, she assumed she must carry the weight of her conviction for the relaxation of her life.

That modified final month, after her case was unearthed by the Star as half of an ongoing investigation into the drug-testing scandal at the Hospital for Sick Youngsters’s former Motherisk lab. Regardless of efforts by Ontario’s legal professional normal to determine and overview prison instances involving Motherisk’s hair tests, which were discredited in 2015, Joyce’s conviction was missed.

The oversight raises questions on the comprehensiveness of the authorities’s inside overview, and whether or not different convictions based mostly on Motherisk testimony have gone unnoticed.

Learn extra: She was convicted of feeding her son cocaine. No one told her the hair tests were flawed



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