Thompson: Protect child arrivals

Michael Thompson
Michael Thompson

With Everton Biddersingh found guilty of first-degree murder of his daughter, Toronto Coun. Michael Thompson has renewed his call for improved co-ordination between local, provincial and federal bodies to monitor newly arrived children and ensure their well-being.
Thompson, himself a child who came to Canada from Jamaica to be with his Mom, stressed the need for creation of an early warning system to detect and act on immigrant child abuse and improved services that victims of such abuse can easily access.
He said “it was difficult for me” as he spent a day in court as Biddersingh, accused of torturing his daughter Melonie for four years then killing her by drowning or starving her, was found guilty of first-degree murder after seven hours of jury deliberations last Thursday.
Thompson added Melonie’s brother was in Canada for two years before he passed away and she was here for four years before she died, yet they were never registered in a school. If they were and they had showed up for classes with bruises and scars, the system would have kicked in, he says. Melonie was sent to Canada by her mother to live with Everton in hopes of having a better life than the poverty they knew in Jamaica.
Thompson cited the case of Randal Dooley who came to Canada from Jamaica to live with his father and went to school but died in 1998 of a brain injury, suffering from numerous injuries including 13 fractured ribs. Randal’s father Troy and his mother Marcia were sentenced to life.
Melonie’s identity – her charred body was found in a burning suitcase 21 years ago – remained a mystery for almost 18 years until a tip to police led to her father’s arrest in March 2012.
During the three-month trial, Melonie’s older half brother Cleon Biddersingh told the jury in detail about the enslavement of his sister and the treatment they endured at the hands of their stepmother Elaine Biddersingh after the children were brought to Canada from Jamaica in 1991.
The jury did not hear about suspicions that swirl around the death of Dwayne Biddersingh in 1992 at age 14 who plummeted from the balcony of their fifth-floor apartment. Officials ruled that a suicide despite a re-opened investigation in 2012.
Everton’s defence lawyer attempted to blame “Evil Elaine” alone for the abuse and Melonie’s death, describing her as a “boss of the house” who resented having to provide for her stepchildren – in particularly Melonie, whom she believed was possessed by the devil.
But the Crown argued Everton was Elaine’s “enforcer” and the one who delivered the beatings and who on some occasions beat Elaine herself.
Cleon testified Everton hated his daughter, rationing her food, insulting and ridiculing her and calling her a traitor after Melonie at one point left with Elaine to stay with Elaine’s mother.
Elaine will stand trial separately later this year.