Saskatchewan·Q&A

'I'd never do it again': Goforth trial juror pleads for more support

Hannah Dillon says she struggled serving on the jury for the Goforth trial, and she hasn't found much help since.

Hannah Dillon, 19, says details she learned as a juror affect her every day

Hannah Dillon says she struggled after serving on the jury of the trial of Kevin and Tammy Goforth. (CBC)

One year after the jury finished its deliberations in the trial of Kevin and Tammy Goforth, a second juror says she has been struggling to find help to recover from the effects of graphic images and testimony.

The Regina couple was convicted of killing a four-year-old girl in their care and harming her younger sister after they arrived in hospital suffering from malnutrition and, in the older girl's case, a heart attack.

The jury found Tammy Goforth guilty of the girl's second-degree murder. Her partner, Kevin Goforth, was found guilty of manslaughter in the girl's death.

They were both convicted for causing bodily harm to the girl's two-year-old sister.

One jury member, Dan Cozine, told CBC he developed PTSD after serving on that disturbing trial and is calling for more support for jurors. 

Saskatchewan doesn't have policies for helping jurors, but is developing one. 

Alberta and Ontario offer free counselling to jurors who need it.

Another juror, Hannah Dillon, now says she struggled serving on that same jury. She hasn't found much help either.

She spoke about her experience with CBC's Stefani Langenegger on CBC Radio's Morning Edition.

Take me back to before this trial began. How were you feeling about serving on a jury?

"Honestly, when I first started it actually seemed quite exciting. It seemed like something good that I'd be doing for my community.

"I originally was thinking of going into social work at the time, so I thought it'd be a great experience for me to be able to do it ... But I ended up regretting it a lot."

What did you know, if anything, about what it might be like for you to hear this case?

"When they were first introducing it, the judge had explained that it was going to be a heavy case, because of the traumatic matter that we were going to be dealing with. But it was just a very simple skim-over ..." 

As it progressed, how did you find sitting there?

"Very, very difficult. There were times when I came home at the end of the day in tears and I had to sit on the couch for a couple hours getting calmed down by my boyfriend.

"And I was not even allowed to talk to my boyfriend or any of my family members about what I'd heard, so I had to just keep it all inside."

What did you find most difficult?

"Probably looking through the photos of the autopsy — the autopsy of the four-year-old girl. That was traumatic to say the least, to have to analyze that and look at it, because we were supposed to be as unbiased as possible and look at it without getting too personal."

After the trial, how did you find things for you in your efforts to move on?

"I kind of tried to move on as fast as possible. I wanted to believe that I wasn't going to need counselling; I wasn't going to need a lot of support because I knew that there weren't very many places that I could reach out for it.

"And I don't have the highest income in my household, so I wasn't able to afford a lot of things like that. So I tried to just bear the feelings, move on, and it did not come as easily as that.

"I talked a lot about it.

"But there were times where I'd wake up from nightmares, or I'd be at work and there'd be a kid that walks in with a cut on their face, and I'd go into crazy overprotective mode and start worrying and over-analyzing everything. And I know that it's probably just a kid who's just playing like any regular kid, but it affected me in so many ways, and I have realized I do need to go seek help because of it."

How readily available is that help?

"There's nothing for me. I need to pay for it by myself.

"I've reached out and I've talked to the courthouse and I've talked to Regina Victim Services. They don't have any resources available for me. There's not even a number that I can call and talk to."

What have your partner, friends and loved ones seen in you over the past year?

"I know that they've explained that they've seen that I've been anxious, and that I've been obviously very worried.

"My mom has been the most protective out of all of this. She's been reaching out, trying to get as much support for me as she can out of the government, but of course she's not getting anything back either.

"I know that they've seen a change in me because of it, especially in the over-protectiveness. My boyfriend has a younger sister who was five at the time, and my feelings for her changed a lot, because I just wanted to make sure that she was safe constantly."

You're not the first juror from this case to speak out and ask for more help. What would you like to see for other jurors in the future?

"There needs to be more support for us.

"We are ushered into a case that we have really no idea how much we're going to be learning; we have no idea what's going to happen.

"We do it and then we just leave, and we don't have any support afterwards.

"It needs to be just the simplest thing. Even just like a call line for us to be able to talk to someone about it. Even the smallest support would be helpful but at most there needs to be counselling. It should be provided."

You mentioned that social work was of interest to you before this trial. Where are you at on that?

"I have decided I'm not going to do social work because I just can't deal with seeing kids like this anymore. The two girls were enough for me.

"My heart broke so many times throughout the case hearing about the things that these girls had to go through and I couldn't do it every day."

What do you want other people to know if we get a summons in the mail to do jury duty?

"I want them to realize it's not going to be like Law and Order. It's not going to be simple and cut and dry and a lot of excitement, and it's going to affect you every day.

"You're going to not be able to stop thinking about it and not be able to stop analyzing the decisions you've made, and every little bit of evidence is going to stick in your head.

"It's not simple. It's so much more than what you think it's going to be ..."

"I'm glad I did it once, but I'd never do it again."

This interview has been edited and condensed.

With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition