Witnesses

Andrew Orobko

Andrew Orobko

  • Marnie Saunderson's supervisor at the time
  • Orobko took on case when Saunderson had to drop it

Bad Move

Wednesday, November 14

It was a bad decision -- there's no doubt.

As the inquiry hearings began again, social worker Andrew Orobko returned to the stand. He talked further about the plan he developed for Phoneix Sinclair's parents. He spoke of the hope that if they took the proper steps -- met with a psychiatrist, attended parenting classes, and visited with Phoenix -- that the family might be reunited.

Orobko is a jovial figure, polite and very conversational. He presents like a laid-back folkie, even under pressure. At times, lawyers found it a little difficult to control Orobko and his cheerful willingness to share insights into the child welfare system of 2000.

But his insights took the back seat when it was revealed that in 2010 he destroyed all of his supervisory notes from that time.

Orobko said he had a personal rule of destroying notes that were five years old.  He maintained that the notes were merely personnel issues: medical leave, annual leave, maternity leave records. He said they had no possible bearing on the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry.

But Jeff Gindin -- the lawyer representing Steve Sinclair, Phoenix's biological father, and Kim Edwards, a self-described "safe haven" for the little girl -- made much of the destroyed files.

Gindin pointed out that by the time Orobko decided to get rid of the files, there had already been a criminal trial on Phoenix's death, and a public inquiry was pending.

Surely, Orobko must have thought -- as one of the first supervisors to take on Phoenix's CFS file -- it was a bad idea to destroy any documents from that time. 

It produced several cringe-worthy moments on the stand yesterday, as Gindin laced into Orobko.

Commission counsel Sherri Walsh then threw up a policy statement that clearly notes it is against agency policy to abscond with notes and to destroy notes.

Even if those documents were simply HR notes, the optics are terrible, and the decision to purge those notes will no doubt haunt Orobko next week when he's back on the stand.

Inside the inquiry

With CBC's Katie Nicholson where an inquiry is trying to figure out how a little girl fell through the cracks.

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