A caseworker for a Toronto boy who starved to death at the hands of his grandparents says other family members should have warned her the couple had a history of abusive behaviour.
Margarita Quintana, a frontline children's aid worker, is testifying for a third day at the coroner's inquest into the death of Jeffrey Baldwin.
Under cross-examination today, she said she had no reason to doubt Elva Bottineau and her partner Norman Kidman had been supportive parents and would be good caregivers to their grandchildren.
A lawyer for Jeffrey's surviving siblings argued Quintana, who is now retired from the Catholic Children's Aid Society, missed significant "red flags" and instead took whatever she was told at face value.
Freya Kristjanson said the fact that Jeffrey's mother, Yvonne Kidman, had been kicked out of the house when she was pregnant with her first child at 16 should have raised concerns.
But Quintana said she wasn't aware of the rift because Yvonne Kidman "never offered this information" and always claimed to have had a "normal" childhood.
"When someone says they have a normal upbringing, do you always take it at face value?" Kristjanson asked, noting the word means often something different to those who grow up in an abusive environment.
Yes, unless there is reason to believe otherwise, Quintana replied.
'We get what we get'
Quintana was asked whether she ever probed Kidman or her siblings about their childhood and their parents' methods of discipline, which the inquest has heard involved being beaten with a belt and forced to stand for hours on end.
The caseworker said she had numerous conversations with the siblings but did not specifically ask them about their experience, adding the teens "had (her) number" and could have called to relay the information.
"We get what we get," she said.
Jeffrey was so severely starved at the end of his life that he couldn't lift his own head. The five-year-old was just 21 pounds when he died in November, 2002 — about as much as he weighed on his first birthday.
Earlier Tuesday, the inquest heard Bottineau's efforts to take part in the proceedings were already in limbo.
A lawyer met with the convicted killer on Monday about her desire to seek standing at the inquest into Jeffrey's death.
Owen Wigderson told the coroner's lawyer afterward he would not represent Bottineau in the proceedings and that she seemed unsure of how she wanted to participate.
In an email to lawyer Jill Witkin, Wigderson said Bottineau doesn't know whether she wants to seek standing or simply testify.
"Ms. Bottineau would like to hire a lawyer to represent her interests and to help her determine whether she should seek standing at the Baldwin inquest or whether she should simply testify," the email read.
Bottineau has yet to file an application for standing and Witkin said the woman cannot decide to testify without being called to do so by the coroner.
Bottineau and her partner Norman Kidman are currently serving life sentences for second-degree murder in Jeffrey's death.
Lawyers for Jeffrey's surviving siblings and the office of Ontario's advocate for children and youth have said involving Bottineau would be an abuse of process.