On 6 July a 27-month-old child died after ingesting illicit drugs that were found at his Toronto home, according to the family and local authorities
A toddler died in Toronto on 6 July after ingesting illicit drugs that were found at his home, police and the family’s lawyer have confirmed. The child, 27-month-old Keelin Warner, was living in the city with his mother and her boyfriend.
Police were called to an east-end Toronto apartment house on Boxing Day 2016, where they discovered the child unconscious and unresponsive, according to a news release from Toronto police posted on Friday. A day later, on 12 December, the toddler was pronounced dead in hospital.
Shortly after Warner’s death, Toronto’s medical examiner declared the death a homicide.
Representatives from the Toronto police and the Toronto district attorney’s office declined to discuss the exact nature of the drugs that were found in the home, and the City of Toronto and Toronto social services agency did not immediately respond to questions about whether they had been involved in dealing with the child before he died.
In a statement released by the Warner family’s lawyer, Gail Perlman, they said the toddler had an “extraordinary sense of right and wrong”, and he had often fallen asleep during supervised sleepovers because of his strong sense of right and wrong. The boy would not allow his mother and her boyfriend to leave him in any reasonable situation, even if he was six years old.
“As a result of Keelin’s impressive discipline, and strong understanding of right and wrong, Keelin had never been an aggressive or a violent child,” Perlman said. “He knew when to shut up and when to stop talking. He knew what was right and what was wrong, and he would stop if he thought someone was wrong.”
The lawyer also called the death “unfathomable” and said the family held no malice toward the suspects, saying: “There were no disputes between Keelin’s family and the accused persons, nor were there any false allegations or accusations made by the family.”
“Keelin was a very special child, loved by all who knew him, and especially by his family and caregiver,” Perlman said. “The death of Keelin has left a deep and profound hole in our hearts. He will never grow up. Keelin’s body will not be released to us, nor will we ever know his final resting place. Keelin’s home is forever locked in chains, since his body is not to be returned.”
Gil Penalosa, a Toronto-based addiction specialist and former court prosecutor, also said that Warner would likely not have died if the alleged drug users had been weaned off his family of drugs. “This little boy, it is hard to believe he is the victim here,” he said. “There is a reason he is not going to be alive today, and it is from the drugs.”
Penalosa says that there is no explanation for why the unnamed couple gave the drug to the child, but that whatever they were using for intoxication could have put the child at risk of developing a life-threatening drug withdrawal.
If convicted, the suspects could face two to 15 years in prison for first-degree murder, according to the Toronto police, and are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.