Preventing the neglect of vulnerable victims: Jamie Hawley's death by neglect
BROCKVILLE, ON, Aug. 30, 2013 /CNW/ - Community Living Ontario, representing over a hundred local associations across the province and 12,000 individuals and families of people who have intellectual disabilities, called for a sentence of Jerry Hawley that would be a strong deterrent to others after his February manslaughter conviction by an Ontario jury.
Jerry's brother, Jamie Hawley was a 41-year-old man who had an intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and little mobility due to brain damage as an infant caused by an assault from a family member. As a child he was institutionalized and later supported by Community Living associations. Like anybody else, he wished to live in the community and have a family again. It appears that Jamie placed his trust in his family to support him and in 2000 Jamie moved in with his brother, Jerry who became responsible for his care.
On May 26, 2008, Jamie died under Jerry's care. Jamie was neglected to death: at the time of his death he weighed 57 pounds, suffering from starvation. He died in his own feces with 33 infected bedsores and pneumonia, confined in a second-storey room in Jerry's house.
Jamie's disability made it impossible for him to defend himself or to withdraw from the intentionally negligent behaviour of his brother, whom he ought to have been able to rely on for seeing that his needs were met. Jamie's tragic death is a reminder that people with disabilities face increased risk of being victims of abuse and neglect—even at the hands of those they trust.
"We called for a sentence that would be a strong deterrent as well as a strong message that society finds such crimes particularly abhorrent. Vulnerable people who have disabilities need the protection of the law to ensure that they are equally valued" says Chris Beesley, Chief Executive Officer of Community Living Ontario.
Jamie Hawley's death is just one of a number of similar horrific deaths over the last decade. Legal precedence was established in 2008 when Allison Cox was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life in the death of her adopted sister, Tiffany Pinckney. Mrs. Cox was sentenced to nine years in a penitentiary.
Madam Justice Ratushny has imposed a sentence that reflects the inhumanity displayed by Jerry towards his brother. It also reflects the value society must place on the lives of vulnerable people", says Beesley.
"Jerry Hawley's conviction and sentencing brings some measure of justice to this case and we hope deters others from neglecting the vulnerable" says Beesley. But we need to know how this could be prevented in the future, how services could step in when there are suspicious circumstances and how better health and safety services could be provided for vulnerable people.
Community Living Ontario repeats the call for a coroner's inquest into Jamie Hawley's death. "We need a deeper investigation to focus on identifying ways in which our society can learn how to prevent this from happening again to other vulnerable people," says Beesley.
SOURCE Community Living OntarioFor further information:
Community Living Ontario
416 447 4348 x 223 or cell 647 261 8448