Smith’s apology ‘means nothing’ to Sherrett
Posted By W. Brice McVicar — Osprey News Network
Posted 2 years ago
An apology from the doctor whose flawed medical findings put a former Trenton woman in prison for eight months — charged with murdering her own son — “means nothing” to the woman.
Sherry Sherrett told Osprey News Network she has not attended the inquiry into the findings of Dr. Charles Smith, a pathologist whose findings in 20 of the 45 child death cases he handled have recently been shown to have been based on poor medical science. One of those cases involved Sherrett’s four-month-old son Joshua who died on Jan. 23, 1996.
But, as expected, she’s been keenly following the proceedings.
At the inquiry in Toronto earlier this week Smith’s lawyer read an apology from the pathologist. In that statement Smith admitted he had “made a number of mistakes” and he was “truly sorry.”
For Sherrett, that apology rings hollow and bears no weight with her.
“It’d be different to say you’re sorry and get things back that you lost, but I won’t get anything back that I’ve lost,” Sherrett said.
Sitting in her small apartment off Dundas Street, Belleville, Sherrett explained how her life became a nightmare after her son’s death. Smith, in his findings, said the infant died of microscopic hemorrhages to the neck and a skull fracture. Later findings showed the boy had died of natural causes.
The child’s death set off a domino effect of destruction for Sherrett, however. Shortly after his death the Children’s Aid Society stepped in and — due to the believed circumstances of her child’s death — took her one-and-a-half-year-old son Austin from her.
Three years later, Sherrett found herself convicted of infanticide and sentenced to a year in prison on the strength of Smith’s findings.
The eight months she spent in jail were frightening for Sherrett who said she lived in fear for her life while housed at the Vanier Centre for Women in Brampton.
“I thought, basically, that my life was pretty much over because the code in jail was to kill the baby killer,” she said.
Simple trips to the cafeteria, the doctor or anywhere else at the jail required Sherrett be accompanied by a guard out of fear for her safety.
The final two months of her sentence were served at the Quinte Detention Centre and, upon release, Sherrett faced two years of probation. Entering normal life again forced Sherrett to examine her options but, more importantly, she worried about what would happen if she were to have another child.
“I really began to wonder what would happen if I became a mom again. I was wondering about who would be watching me and that sort of stuff.”
Life did eventually return to normal and, after becoming pregnant with her third child, Sherrett learned that the man whose words had caused her so much grief was under a microscope himself.
During her trial, there had been two doctors willing to testify against Smith’s findings and Sherrett needed the documents outlining their concerns because the CAS, on learning of her pregnancy, began to question her fitness as a mother. She placed a phone call to her lawyer hoping to secure those doctors’ names and documents when she was told Smith was being investigated.
“I went on the Internet and, sure enough, there it was: he was being investigated. I sat and I cried. It took me a couple of months to call the Association In Defence of Wrongfully Convicted because I was scared they wouldn’t believe me,” she said.
A meeting with the association resulted in Sherrett being represented by the group and that, she said, was the moment she felt her name may finally be cleared in her baby’s death.
Though Sherrett plans to be at the inquiry when Smith testifies, she has not been officially asked to appear. She said she just wants to be there to see Smith in person again.
“At this point I’d just like to see some type of justice come to him,” she said. “He needs to lose his licence. He needs to have a taste of what we’ve all had. It’s been hard up until the past couple of years. I’m living my life for my family.”
Sherrett’s son has since been adopted by another family and is now 13-years-old.
She receives pictures of him and letters from him occasionally, but has to wait until he turns 18 before she can see him.
And the pregnancy that came about when Sherrett learned Smith was under investigation? The bright-eyed two-year-old girl is her mother’s “angel.”
The CAS is now satisfied Sherrett is indeed competent and safe to raise the toddler.
“I almost lost her, too. Based on everything that happened before, we almost lost her. We went to the CAS on our own when I became pregnant and said we’d do whatever it took to keep her. We went through a parenting capacity assessment course, we took CPR, we did everything ... This is my chance to be a mom again.”