No red flags before Jason Cardinal killed sons, caseworker says
Supervisor shocked by deaths of boys, aged 6 and 3, but would have done nothing different
The caseworker in charge of Jason Cardinal's file told a fatality inquiry Wednesday it never crossed his mind that Cardinal would kill his young sons.
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Todd Weekes took over the file in the summer of 2010 after the previous worker asked to be removed because she felt threatened by Cardinal.
Weekes, a supervisor with many years at Child and Family Services, told the inquiry he thought it best a male caseworker took over the file.
He said he was aware of Cardinal's mental health issues and how it was affecting his parenting.
He was also aware of concerns Cardinal physically disciplining his sons Caleb, 6, and Gabriel, 3.
Cardinal was taking direction
While Cardinal saw Weekes as someone standing between him and his sons, Weekes felt Cardinal was taking direction from him to improve his mental health and parenting abilities.
He met Jason Cardinal face to face half a dozen times at his office, Weekes said.
Weekes told the court he understood that if Jason did not have stability in his life he could be impulsive and potentially harm the kids.
But he understood those concerns related to physical discipline including hitting the boys or using a belt.
It never crossed his mind that Cardinal would end the boys lives.
Weekes said he relied on reports from the team of professionals involved with Jason including psychologists and Cardinal's support worker.
Cardinal was committed to the plan laid out for him to earn more access to the kids and "did a good job" of following the expectations set out for him.
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When Weekes took over the case, Cardinal was getting supervised visits with the boys.
In the fall 2010, Cardinal visitation rights progressed to partially supervised to unsupervised for a few hours.
While Cardinal faced criminal issues, including forging prescriptions and shoplifting, it did not affect his access to his sons.
Weekes said after three months of overnight, no flags had been raised concerning Cardinal's behaviour.
Cardinal excited about Christmas
In emails Cardinal expressed excitement about Christmas, as he planned to take the boys to his mother's home on the Goodfish Lake Reserve, Weekes said.
Weekes had no concerns about the upcoming unsupervised visit on Dec. 17 and had set up a meeting with Cardinal for Dec. 20, 2010 to follow up on a few issues.
However on Dec. 19, the boys were found strangled to death in Cardinal's Abbottsfield home.
Weekes agreed he was in complete shock when he heard the news.
Asked if there was anything he could have done, Weekes said he's played it over in his mind, but can think of nothing he could have done differently.
He told the court that his managers reviewed the file and said they arrived at the same conclusion.
During cross-examination by Kenneth Slupek, the lawyer acting on behalf of the boys' mother Andrea Badger, Weekes acknowledged he received reports from a doctor who described Cardinal as a "very dangerous man."
In a letter to Weekes, the doctor said Cardinal was "completely unreliable" and "always aggressive".
Also Weekes admitted that Badger had expressed to him her concern for the children's safety.
But Weekes said he relied primarily on the information of the team of professionals who maintained Cardinal was doing well.
Weekes told court that Cardinal always ran into problems with people he did not trust, but Weekes believed he loved his sons.
The inquiry which aims to prevent similar tragedies continues Thursday.