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Friend of mother worried stepfather was abusing Phoenix Sinclair

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Worried that four-year-old Phoenix Sinclair was being molested by her stepfather, a friend of her mother contacted Winnipeg Child and Family Services, the inquiry into the death of the little girl heard today.

A friend of Samantha Kematch's, who cannot be identified, told the inquiry that Phoenix was touching herself, "peeing the bed" and spending too much time left in the care of Wes McKay, Kematch's boyfriend who was not the little girl's father.

In the several years she knew Kematch, the "source of referral" testified seeing Phoenix with her mother just twice. The person was always told that Phoenix was with relatives or McKay -- even on the road with McKay, who was a long-distance trucker.

Kematch and McKay were convicted in 2008 of murdering Phoenix in 2005. An inquiry into her death and how she slipped through Manitoba's child-protection safety net was ordered by the province in 2011 and began in September 2012.

The first time the witness saw Phoenix with Kematch, Kematch was outraged at Phoenix for getting her white outfit dirty when she was playing outside. The second and only other time the person saw Phoenix with her mother was when they were walking to the bus stop together and Kematch had Phoenix mimicking obscenities.

The witness told the inquiry of meeting Kematch when they spent time together at an aboriginal support home in 1998 and 1999.

In the winter of 2004-2005, Kematch was living in an apartment on McGee Street in Winnipeg with Phoenix, McKay and the baby they just had together.

The witness said Kematch was scared of McKay and talked about leaving him.

"I thought maybe Wes was abusing Sam and Phoenix," the person said.

The person reported concerns anonymously to CFS in the winter of 2004-2005. The person heard from Kematch that child welfare workers did go to the home but didn't notice any problems. Kematch believed a neighbour who babysat for her was the one who had called CFS, the witness said.

The witness's testimony continues this afternoon.

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