Nova Scotia

Glace Bay man sentenced for criminal negligence in son's death

Jason Wayne Comer was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for criminal negligence in the 2019 death of his nearly four-month-old son by failing to provide him with the necessities of life.

Jason Wayne Comer has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for the 2019 death of his son

Jason Wayne Comer of Glace Bay, N.S., is shown at a prior court appearance in Sydney provincial court. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

A Nova Scotia judge said a baby's death could have been prevented if a Glace Bay father picked up his phone to call 911.

Jason Wayne Comer was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for criminal negligence in the 2019 death of his nearly four-month-old son by failing to provide him with the necessities of life.

"This was a tragic event that could have been prevented, if the accused had taken the child to the hospital," said provincial court Judge Dan MacRury.

Comer, 44, sobbed as the judge began sentencing Tuesday in provincial court in Sydney.

The court heard that Comer was caring for the child, identified in court documents as J.B., for almost two weeks in the fall of 2019. He later admitted to police that during the child's stay at his home, both he and the baby had fallen down a set of stairs.

Videos taken of the child

Although the baby had visible injuries to his face and back, Comer did not take J.B. to a hospital or call 911 after the fall.

A few days later, Comer said J.B. was breathing strangely, so he gave the infant a bath but again did not seek medical help because he was fearful child services would take the infant away.

On the day before J.B. died, Comer took three videos on a cellphone showing him in distress. On the first video, Comer can be heard saying that he should probably take the child to a hospital.

When he baby was discovered unresponsive on the morning of Oct. 9, 2019, Comer phoned his mother who instructed him to call 911.

Cape Breton Regional Police were called to the home on Cottage Street in Glace Bay, shortly after paramedics arrived. The child was taken to a nearby hospital and was later pronounced dead.

MacRury said that 11.5 hours had elapsed between Comer's first and last videos.

"This tragic death could have been prevented," said MacRury. "Deciding to use your phone to document your child's condition instead of [phoning] 911, you failed as a parent to protect your child. Your actions are shocking, irrational and quite frankly, deplorable."

Comer was originally scheduled to stand trial, but pleaded guilty in April.

Comer has acknowledged he made an error in judgment, but said he did not understand the severity of J.B's condition, and panicked once his son was in distress.

Multiple injuries discovered

Crown prosecutor Darcy MacPherson said a medical examiner found that the child died of multiple blunt force injuries.

Almost every rib in the baby's body was fractured at least once, and injuries showed varying degrees of healing ⁠— meaning they were not inflicted all at once.

The cause of the the child's injuries has not been established.

"We're not alleging that any of the injuries that the child suffered were caused by any specific person," said MacPherson.

"We know who had the responsibility to get him to the hospital before he died and it wasn't done."

The child's mother filed a victim impact statement in court, which said neither she, nor her family, blames Comer for the child's death.

"I wouldn't have had my children with Jason if I'd felt in any way that they were at risk," she said. "I know that this was not intentional. I don't consider him a bad person or father. I carry guilt myself as a mother that I wasn't there."