OD baby's father seeks mental assessment

The lawyer for a Calgary man convicted of failing to provide his daughter with the necessities of life is now arguing that because of a brain injury, he might not be criminally responsible for the toddler's death from an inadvertent drug overdose.

The lawyer for a Calgary man convicted of failing to provide his daughter with the necessities of life is now arguing that because of a brain injury, he might not be criminally responsible for the toddler's death from an inadvertent drug overdose.

A mental assessment of Jonathan Hope should be completed before he is sentenced, his lawyer, Joan Blumer, argued on Thursday.

The motion is unusual because Hope and his former partner, Lisa Guerin, were found guilty earlier this month of failing to provide their 16-month-old daughter, Summer, with the necessities of life.

Summer died in April 2006 after ingesting a lethal dose of methadone that Hope had been taking as part of treatment for a drug addiction.

Hope and Guerin were acquitted of two other, more serious, charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death.

'Peculiar' actions could be from brain injury

The Court of Queen's Bench trial heard that instead of calling 911, Hope tried to resuscitate his daughter with CPR for hours and created a crude defibrillator out of wires from a lamp. The father said he didn't call 911 because his phone wasn't working.

Blumer argued that Hope's actions were "peculiar" and might have been caused by a brain injury he had suffered years before.

She said she wasn't asking to overturn last month's conviction but that a full assessment is required to clarify whether Hope is criminally responsible. She said mental assessments had been ordered for her client but were never completed.

Crown prosecutor Ken McCaffrey will be arguing against that request on Monday. He said the defence should have a good reason for an assessment so late in the trial process, and he believes Blumer did not make a strong argument for it.

"Certainly, some of the behaviour pointed to in the trial is peculiar, but peculiarity does not rise to the level of failing to appreciate the nature and consequences of your actions," said McCaffrey.