Pathologist accused of withholding evidence in Canadian case

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Experts say the trial will be critical for the public in understanding the role of pathologists in autopsies A case involving an Ontario pathologist who has been accused of…

Pathologist accused of withholding evidence in Canadian case

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Experts say the trial will be critical for the public in understanding the role of pathologists in autopsies

A case involving an Ontario pathologist who has been accused of withholding evidence in multiple murder investigations will be closely watched by parents and families.

Dr Balbir Singh Sidhu, a pathologist who worked at Toronto’s public hospital, examined the remains of murdered teen Loren Donnelly, and little Jayme Biendl in 2009.

But Dr Sidhu’s opinions have been the subject of criminal charges in the province of Ontario.

The cases of the two girls highlight how pathologists can be blamed for unintentional errors that might never have occurred had expert witnesses not been killed.

“It doesn’t reflect the integrity of the profession or the forensic pathologist as a respected person,” Dr Sidhu told CBC News in a recent interview.

Public eye

Dr Sidhu is one of four pathologists charged with not disclosing evidence they believe proves that homicide charges should have been dropped.

The cases allege that pathologists in Toronto improperly withheld body parts and photographs that could have proven that either girls were murdered.

While defence lawyers said the documents are closed, the Crown did not oppose disclosure when the defence applied.

This case focuses on allegations that Dr Sidhu failed to disclose evidence during three forensic autopsies.

If the Crown believes a deceased person’s body parts can be used to identify the perpetrator it would then seek a warrant to do so.

Toronto police have never said that Dr Sidhu was aware of the body parts, but told CBC News in a story posted in May that they did request the revelation.

Family members are seeking clarity from Dr Sidhu, including over a picture that he shared on his Facebook page of a female body with a prominent tattoo, the kind that relatives want to see.

‘Trial of a pathologist’

In a segment aired on ABC News Canada earlier this week, Drs Raymond and Rozina Kasper said their daughter was a beautiful, enthusiastic young woman who would be alive today had it not been for this “miscarriage of justice”.

The family did not understand why the tests were never done and why the evidence was not made public.

The family’s attorney, Andrew Steeves, said they want to address concerns about the integrity of the case, pointing to how Dr Sidhu is pictured on his Facebook page holding a body.

Image copyright Supplied Image caption The public have been watching the trial of Dr Sidhu since it began in October 2018

Dr Sidhu has kept a low profile since the accusations came to light.

He testified in the case in October, sharing his side of the story, but has not testified again.

Family members say they are searching for answers and want Dr Sidhu to provide a concrete explanation to their daughter.

Mr Steeves said: “So far he has not adequately addressed the concerns and instead has attacked her behaviour, complaining about media coverage and his professional reputation.

“We believe it is important that he clarify the circumstances surrounding all these incidents, including the response of the police.”

Dr Sidhu will be expected to testify again on 23 December.

The case is being closely watched by parents and families across Canada and across the world.

Image copyright Creditage

“This is the first time I’ve heard a coroner discuss a trial of a pathologist,” said Murray Gellatly, a coroner for almost 30 years and chair of the Ontario Pathology Association.

“However, they need to ensure this court process is clear and transparent,” he said.

“We’re under pressure from some sections of the media that their input needs to be heard.”

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