The Saint John toddler who sustained a head injury and died on Christmas Day was seriously hurt in an incident two years ago, triggering police and social worker investigations at the time, CBC News has learned.
Alexzender O'Neil Flint-Kerr, 26 months old, was rushed to hospital by ambulance from his Tartan Street home on Dec. 25, but could not be revived.
Saint John police have been investigating the death and have concluded the child struck his head on a bathroom toilet, but are waiting on a complete autopsy to learn more details about what might have happened.
The child's father, Oliver Kerr, was home at the time and has been cooperating with police, and it has not been alleged the death was anything but an accident.
In an interview with the Telegraph-Journal this week, Kerr said the boy slipped during bath time and he is heartbroken by what happened.
"Do I feel guilty? Yes I do. I feel very guilty. That is something I have to walk with the rest of my life," Kerr is quoted as saying. "I didn't have to give him a bath."
Still, CBC News has learned it's not the first time Alexzender has been the centre of an investigation.
Two years ago almost to the day, on Christmas Eve 2013, then 10-week-old Alexzender suffered another head injury according to police records.
"Police received a call to the Saint John Regional Hospital for a report of an injured child brought into the emergency department," says Saint John police spokeswoman Sgt. Lori Magee, who confirmed the earlier incident.
Magee says the child was Alexzender and police were concerned enough by his condition to conduct an investigation and call in child protection specialists with the Department of Social Development.
However, charges were not approved when the case was taken to Crown prosecutors for review.
The child's father, mother and a third person who lived in the home at the time were all questioned, but ultimately no one was prosecuted.
"The police investigation in collaboration with the Department of Social Development concluded, with the Crown prosecutions office advising that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal charge relating to the injuries sustained by the child," said Magee.
Officials cite privacy concerns
The Department of Social Development will say little about its involvement with Alexzender or his parents.
"In accordance with privacy legislation and the Family Services Act, information about a specific case is not permitted to be talked about," the department said in an emailed statement.
"When the department is reviewing the death of a child, there is a comprehensive examination of all information related to the department's involvement with the child/family," the statement said.
"The department would be trying to identify any factors that may have contributed to the child's death, any areas that might require further examination and recommendations for improvement, if appropriate."