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Accuracy of investigator's report questioned at inquest into baby's death

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An inquest into the killing of a 21-month old baby resumed today, with questions being raised about the accuracy of a special investigative report into the Awasis aboriginal child and family services agency.

Jaylene Redhead was killed by her mother, Nicole, in November 2009 while both were living in a government-funded native women’s shelter under Asasis' supervision.

Nicole Redhead pleaded guilty to manslaughter after she admitted to suffocating Jaylene.

Justine Grain, the special investigator with the Office of the Child Advocate, reviewed Awasis’ handling of the baby and concluded in a report that the agency had failed to ensure the safety of the child and that it had not met the basic standards of care management.

But under questioning from Awasis counsel Jeff Harris, Grain said that she had written her report largely by reviewing the file history, and without interviewing any of the Awasis care workers who dealt with Jaylene and her mother.

Harris said the Awasis case workers would have had information about the agency’s plan for the infant and her mother that was not included in the case files.

"You were the investigator," Harris said. "Your job was to get the facts. You did not get the facts."

While Nicole Redhead told the inquest in December that she felt abandoned by Awasis, Harris referred to a self-evaluation written by Nicole Redhead who said that Awasis had provided her with all the support and help she needed.

The inquest continues.

Redhead had killed her daughter by placing her hand over her mouth and holding it there for as long as two minutes. After the baby’s body went limp, Redhead placed her in her crib, where she was not discovered for several hours.

Awasis had seized Jaylene in October 2007, shortly after her birth, and obtained a series of guardianship orders. By December 2008, Awasis supported the child’s return to Nicole Redhead in a controlled setting, living at a treatment centre under Awasis supervision.

Redhead’s two older children had been seized by child welfare authorities and she was pregnant with a fourth child at the time of the killing. That child has been made a permanent ward.

At Redhead’s sentencing hearing, it was revealed that little Jaylene had suffered more than 30 separate injuries to nearly every part of her body in the days before she died, including several bite marks to her legs, and severe bruising to her vagina as a result of being kicked so hard it left a footprint impression.


Updated on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 8:27 PM CDT: Corrects typo.

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