OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has ordered a new trial for a couple who used homemade remedies instead of seeking medical attention for their son who died of meningitis.
David Stephan and his wife, Collet, were found guilty in 2016 of failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel in 2012.
Their trial in Lethbridge, Alta., heard that they treated the boy with garlic, onion and horseradish rather than take him to a doctor. The Stephans eventually called 911 but the little boy died in hospital.
The Supreme Court heard arguments from the couple's lawyer and the Crown this morning before making the decision.
Justice Michael Moldaver, speaking for the high court, said the trial judge did not properly instruct jurors "in a way that the jury could understand ... Accordingly we would allow the appeal, quash the convictions and order a new trial."
David Stephan said outside court that he and his wife feel vindicated.
"We're grateful because this is a move in the right direction and we now have the opportunity to bring the whole truth forward," he said.
"We're just so excited to have the ability to do that and to be able to uphold parental rights here in Canada."
The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the conviction last November, but because the ruling wasn't unanimous, the couple had an automatic right to take their case to the Supreme Court.
David Stephan was sentenced to four months in jail and his wife was ordered to spend three months under house arrest — the only exceptions being for trips to church and medical appointments.
The Canadian Press
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