December 8, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
The "godfather" who was likely the last person who loved Phoenix Sinclair to see the little girl alive testified at the inquiry into her death this morning.
Rohan Stephenson, 42, said he had no idea Samantha Kematch would murder the girl after she and her mother took Phoenix from his care shortly before her fourth birthday in April 2004.
"I assumed they'd take her and Sam would get sick of her in two days and let her go," Stephenson testified.
Kematch and her boyfriend, Karl McKay, murderd Phoenix in 2005 and were convicted in 2008 of first degree murder.
The inquiry, which began in September, has heard several times about the man identified only as Phoenix’s "godfather" who took her to hospital in Feburary 2003 with a festering object stuck up her nose.
That was Stephenson, who testified for the first time today. He was caring for Phoenix more than half the time when her mother showed up one day for a visit in April 2004.
Stephenson didn’t want Child and family Services involved with him and his kids so he didn’t give his name at Children’s Hospital when he took Phoenix there in February 2003 when the object stuck up her nose started to stink. He’s not sure why the hospital forms - seen many times over the last two weeks at the inquiry - listed him as her godfather.
Stephenson testified that in April 2004, when Kematch took Phoenix from his home for a visit, he didn't know she was a danger to Phoenix. He didn’t notify Child and Family Services or Phoenix's father, Steve Sinclair, who was supposed to be caring for the little girl.
Stephenson said he didn’t notify Sinclair because he didn't know where Sinclair was and Sinclair had no phone. At the time, Stephenson was working nights full-time caring for quadriplegic residents at 1010 Sinclair, raising Edwards’ and his sons, who were then 11 and 13, and caring for Phoenix during the day instead of sleeping.
"I was exhausted," he told commission counsel Derek Olson.
Stephenson said he didn't trust Child and Family Services and admitted to lying to CFS workers that his estranged wife Kim Edwards was living with him so they wouldn't take Phoenix and put her in a foster home with strangers.
The lawyer representing child welfare agencies at the inquiry asked Stephenson if he didn't bear some of the blame for what happened to Phoenix by not reporting things to CFS and being honest with social workers.
Stephenson told Kris Saxberg if social workers had done their job and followed up, they would have known what was going on.
"I'm a liar, they're incompetent, and 15,000 other circumstances - and now Phoenix is dead," he said.
Outside the hearing he told reporters that social workers need to have professional standards and be held accountable.
"Why aren’t they accountable?"
Updated on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 5:03 PM CST:
Corrects spelling of name.