Three parents are facing criminal charges in the death of a toddler who was found “unresponsive with marijuana in his system” last summer, police said.
The 22-month-old boy, identified by Toronto police as Declan, was pronounced dead in a hospital on June 11, 2013, police said. His father, 41-year-old John Vaughan, was charged with criminal negligence causing death, while his wife and mother of the toddler, Courtney, 31, was charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life.
The couple’s 25-year-old stepson, Benjamin, was charged with manslaughter, police said. The trio was arrested on Friday.
Police told reporters that Declan was found dead in his bed with marijuana “in his system,” Toronto Star reported. Police did not specify how the marijuana was used.
Authorities said that despite records showing the family sought help for the toddler after his condition deteriorated, Declan was not seen by a doctor or nurse in his final days, according to Fox News.
The North York Police and the Special Investigations Unit are overseeing the case, according to Toronto Sun.
Lars Bastian, a spokesman for the SIU, which investigates cases involving police when there has been a death or serious injury, said the agency’s investigators consider the results of the medical examiner’s report into Declan’s death when they look into the allegations.
Police told The Washington Post that there have been seven known deaths related to methamphetamine in this region since 2008, and they are working to get more data on the issue.
“We know there is a trend that is unfolding,” Bastian said. “This is part of the larger trend that we are looking at.”
Toronto police said that Declan’s cause of death is still pending. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner told The Post that when dealing with a crime scene such as this, its office is only required to provide factual information to the local investigators. It is up to the police to take any conclusions from that information.
But it is highly unusual for authorities to charge a parent in such a young child’s death, Toronto police Sgt. Robert Massicotte told The Post.
“A parent who was responsible for this life’s work and had the responsibility of ensuring the life of another would be a very uncharacteristic act,” Massicotte said.