Death of Thomas Audet: a public coroner's inquest is launched

Death of Thomas Audet: a public coroner's inquest has been launched

Little Thomas died in unclear circumstances at the age of 22 months.

Radio-Canada has learned that a public coroner's inquest has just been called to shed light on the suspicious death of little Thomas Audet, six years after the tragedy in Alma.

According to our sources, the public hearings will begin on September 12 at the Chicoutimi courthouse and will take place over five days. They will be chaired by coroner Géhane Kamel, known in particular for her report on deaths in CHSLDs during the first wave of COVID-19.

The death of the 22-month-old toddler has was found on June 18, 2016 at Alma Hospital.

Despite signs of negligence and a report to the Department of Youth Protection (DPJ) a month before his dead, the young boy still remained with his family and was awaiting services.

Various injuries were observed on the child between February and June 2016, including a fractured femur, an ear laceration, a cut tongue and a hand injury.

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The DPJ was severely blamed by the Human Rights Commission for the death of the toddler in unclear circumstances. The family has also filed a lawsuit against the CIUSSS du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

The Coroner's Office indicates by email that it will shortly provide the list of witnesses and experts who will be called to allow the coroner to establish the causes and circumstances of death.

The Chief Coroner ordered the public inquest because he believes the public and the family would benefit from hearing the information presented. Moreover, he believes it useful to question witnesses under oath.

At the end of a four-year investigation by the Sureté du Québec, Maxime Patry was arrested and charged with manslaughter in June 2020. The individual was the spouse of Thomas Audet's mother at the time of his death. .

But in September 2021, the Criminal and Penal Prosecutions Branch filed a notice of stay of proceedings at Maxime Patry's trial because a key prosecution witness had changed his version of the facts.

In cases where legal proceedings are taking place, the coroner's work cannot begin until these are completed. This is the case in this case, for which the legal proceedings were spread over several years , underlines the Office of the coroner.

Over the years, the grandparents by little Thomas Audet have also launched several heartfelt cries to denounce the slowness of the procedures.

Grands- parents of Thomas Audet, Henriette Bouchard and André Simard.

Six years after the tragedy that took their grandson away from them, they finally hope to know the truth.

We are confident that we will finally know what really happened to Thomas, explains the child's grandfather, André Simard.

He and his wife, Henriette Bouchard, had been aware since February that the coroner was calling for a public inquiry. The grandparents are relieved that it is finally triggered.

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