A mother and father convicted in the death of their 14-month-old son have each been sentenced to 32 months in prison.
A jury found the Calgary couple, Jennifer and Jeromie Clark, guilty last fall of criminal negligence causing death and failure to provide the necessaries of life.
Court heard their toddler, John, didn’t see a doctor until the day before he died in November 2013. A forensic pathologist’s report said he was malnourished and died from a staph infection.
Jurors saw photos of the dead boy with a red rash all over his body and with blackened toes. They were also shown screen shots of online searches for natural remedies for gangrene, such as cabbage leaves and cayenne.
Queen’s Bench Justice Paul Jeffrey said in his ruling that society doesn’t need protection from the Clarks.
“In most every respect the offenders are described as model citizens, compassionate of others, amazing parents,” he said Wednesday.
But Jeffrey also said it’s important the parents spend time in prison.
“A period of incarceration is necessary to deter other parents who may similarly recklessly forgo proper and timely medical care for their child.”
Prosecutors argued the Clarks waited too long to take the gravely ill boy to hospital and their sentence should send a message of denunciation and deterrence.
The Crown had asked for a sentence of four to five years, while defence lawyers recommended terms ranging from probation to eight months in jail.
Prosecutor Jennifer Crews said during sentencing submissions last week that it’s clear the Clarks loved their son very much. But she argued the parents were responsible for the helpless child, and their failure to seek medical care as he grew sicker over a period of weeks was not a momentary lapse in judgment.
The couple’s lawyers suggested at trial that doctors at the Alberta Children’s Hospital were to blame because they raised the boy’s sodium and fluid levels too aggressively.
David Chow, Jeromie Clark’s lawyer, described the Clarks as “loving parents that were misguided” and questioned what putting them behind bars would accomplish.
John Phillips, Jennifer Clark’s lawyer, told court: “This is not a case of a child being starved or abused.”