TORONTO, Feb. 14, 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
awaits the sentencing of Jerry Hawley after his manslaughter conviction
today by an Ontario jury.
"We now await a sentence that will 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 Deborah Rollier,
President of Community Living Ontario. "Abhorrent crimes such as that
suffered by Jamie at the hands of his brother must be dealt with in no
uncertain terms - it must deter such crimes," she says.
Jamie 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
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.
Community Living Ontario commends the efforts of Crown Attorney
Claudette Breault, as well as the Leeds Grenville OPP detachment for
their thorough investigation and pursuit of justice in the abuse Jamie
Hawley suffered at the hands of his brother, Jerry.
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, 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
Jerry Hawley's undisputed responsibility for causing the truly horrible
death of his brother Jamie by starvation and associated injuries has
already been met with abhorrence by society, whether as represented by
the community living movement or by the media and the general public.
As his trial drew to a close, Jerry told the court that he was prepared
to plead guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter. However, the Crown
continued to press the charge of second degree murder. A conviction for
murder is a stronger expression of the abhorrence society has for such
The deterrence factor in the Hawley case is extremely important: there
is a serious need for this case to serve as a deterrent to others,
including family members, from inflicting harm on persons with
disabilities, especially when that harm culminated in their death.
As families and communities we mourn the death of Jamie Hawley—a man who
had so much to share with the world. Even for those who did not know
him personally, Jamie's death exposes vulnerabilities that move us
Community Living Ontario awaits justice for Jamie as well as a strong
deterrence to others in order to protect the vulnerable and those who
SOURCE: Community Living Ontario
For further information:
Interim Communications Director
Community Living Ontario
416-447-4348 x 223