The B.C. Criminal Justice Branch says no charges will be laid against a Delta police investigator in a case involving a young woman who later aged out of the foster care system and died.
At issue in the case of Page Gauchier is whether police and emergency responders should have been charged for failing to report an incident of alleged violence against the girl to the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Guachier’s aging out of the foster care system and dying not long afterward at the age of 19, due to a fatal overdose on the Downtown Eastside, made headlines and raised serious questions about the system.
The Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) conducted an investigation into the young woman’s life and released the findings last year as Paige’s Story.
That scathing report noted a collective failure to keep Gauthier safe, finding “the downward spiral of a child who had great potential but never received the protection, nurturing and care she needed and deserved.”
The Delta case occurred two years prior to her death, when a then 17-year-old Gauchier turned up with a bloody nose at a Delta gas station in January 2011.
The BCCJB noted she said she had been assaulted by six girls but she was unclear on the details. Delta police and B.C. Ambulance Service attended.
Paramedics determined that Gauchier’s injuries were minor but they recommended that she go to hospital. She refused. The police then spoke to her uncle in Vancouver, who asked that she be taken by taxi to his residence, according the justice branch.
The police understood that he was her guardian and that she was living with him at the time. Neither the police nor the BCAS paramedics reported the incident to the ministry.
A major focus of a Mountie investigation, requested by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, was a review of “numerous contacts Ms. Gauchier had during her life with police, paramedics, health care workers, school staff, and others who typically come into contact with children in distress. In the RCY’s opinion, many of those contacts should have been reported to the MCFD, pursuant to the Child, Family and Community Service Act…because Ms. Gauchier was a reportable ‘child in need of protection’ as defined in the Act.”
However, the Paige report noted there was no follow-up because there had been confusion over her guardianship.
The RCMP completed its investigation and submitted a report to Crown Counsel in March 2016, recommending that the police investigator and two paramedics in the January 2011 case be charged with failing to report a child in need of protection.
However, the BCCJB noted the Crown has to consider the likelihood that viable defences will succeed before proceeding with charges.
“CJB has concluded, based on the available evidence, that there is no substantial likelihood that the officers or paramedics would be convicted of the offence recommended by the RCMP,” according to a new release issued Tuesday, which added the decision “follows an extensive and thorough review of the available evidence by Crown Counsel.”