Labrador judge tears strip off social services officials

A Labrador judge says the social service system has been failing a 14-year-old boy who was held for more than a week without a shower or visits from his parents.

Handling of teen's case described as 'pathetic'

A Labrador judge said the social service system has been failing a 14-year-old boy held in a lockup for more than a week without a shower.

CBC News accessed recordings of an Oct. 25 bail hearing involving the boy, whose treatment has prompted an RCMP review of how the boy was treated at an adult lockup in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Provincial court Judge John Joy said the incident— which is also under investigation by Newfoundland and Labrador's child and youth advocate, Darlene Neville— was just the latest in a list of woes involving the child.

Joy described as "pathetic" how the province's social servicessystemhas treated the boy and said the teen has been through a year of "hell" while in the province's care.

When the teen, who cannot be identified because of a publication ban, was taken away from his mother in the fall of 2006, he had no criminal record.

Over the next year, he was convicted more than 28 times, usually for probation breaches because he refused to follow the curfew of a group home in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

In October,the boy was convicted for possession of marijuana and for breach of probation, after being arrested earlier in the month for missing curfew.

At the bail hearing, Joy said the boy needed help from the regional director of child, youth and family services.

Instead, Joy said the director — Genevieve Corbin— was resisting efforts to get psychiatric help and was withholding information from the court.

Joy said the director did not even pass on an order from the court to the boy's social worker until a month after it was issued.

By that time the boy was back in court facing new charges.

Joy labelled the director's actions as weak, bureaucratic and ineffective.

Boy ordered returned to father

He even suggested that the director wanted the boy sent to jail in Whitbourne so she wouldn't have to deal with his case anymore.

Instead, Joy ordered that the boy be returned to his father and he reserved the right to bring contempt of court charges against the director.

The Labrador Grenfell Health regional authority is not commenting on the case, but said a lawyer will review Joy's comments in court.

The RCMP is analyzing the boy's 10-day stay at the lockup in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. For eight of those days, the teen's lawyer told the court, the boy was not permitted a shower or allowed to meet with his mother.

Jerome Kennedy, appointed last week as Newfoundland and Labrador's justice minister, said the province is not reviewing the teenager's treatment at the RCMP lockup.

"No formal complaint has been made either to my department or the RCMP," Kennedy said.

"It's certainly a situation I will certainly consider if and when it's brought formally to the province's attention, and secondly I will certainly discuss this with the child and youth advocate or the citizens' representative office, if they will discuss the same."