By RON FANFAIR
How can someone beat their own child to death? Ten-year-old Corrine Cornelius asked her mother, Alicia Gordon-Fagan, the question as they were on their way to pay tribute recently to little Randal Dooley who died in September 1998 of a brain injury likely caused by repeated shaking. The trial judge described Dooley’s death as one of the worst cases of child abuse in Canadian history.
The young boy’s father, Troy Dooley and stepmother Marcia Dooley, were sentenced to life in prison in May 2002.
Gordon-Fagan admitted she did not have an immediate answer for her daughter.
“I was speechless,” she said. “I just did not know what to say.”
The Ontario Ministry of Labour lawyer and a few friends, including legal professionals Patricia DeGuire, Paul Scotland and Donna Walwyn, banking executive Alicia Mair and social worker Jean Lawrence planted a commemorative tree and erected a plaque at Glamorgan Park next to the Scarborough elementary school which Randal attended.
“I have always been concerned about Randal’s death ever since I saw his picture in the paper,” said Jamaican-born Gordon-Fagan who attended the University of the West Indies before coming to Canada in 1988. “I felt that the community and myself let him down and this is just a little gesture from me to ensure he’s not forgotten.
“I had no idea where he lived, but I found out which school he attended and was happy to learn that there was a park right next to it. I needed to plant the tree somewhere where it meant something…The tree will serve as a constant reminder to our collective conscience of a life tragically cut short by those who should have protected him and as a renewing promise to do everything in our power to ensure that no other child suffers Randal’s fate.”
Last September, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the parents’ second-degree murder convictions, declining to hear their appeal. The couple had argued in the Ontario Court of Appeal that they should be granted a new trial.
“I was in Jamaica when the parents were convicted in April 2002,” recalled Gordon-Fagan who holds a law degree from the University of Western Ontario. “When this case came before the Supreme Court, I knew I had to do something to pay tribute to Randal and that was when I, with the help of friends, approached the city and discovered there was a park close to the elementary school he last went to.”
Randal, who came to Canada from Jamaica to live with his father about a year before his death, was covered in bruises and weighed just 41 lbs. The seven-year-old was found with 13 fractured ribs, a damaged liver, four brain injuries and a tooth embedded in his stomach.
The red maple tree dedicated to Randal is located in the park next to Glamorgan Junior Public School at 51 Antrim Crescent.
The city’s Commemorative Tree and Bench program allows the public to pay tribute to a person or occasion by purchasing a park bench or tree for installation in a public place.
Since Randal’s shocking death, two other young Jamaican children who came to Canada to live with their fathers and stepmothers have suffered a similar fate.
Last June, 15-year-old Tiffany Gayle’s lifeless body was found in her Brampton home. A post mortem revealed the Fletcher Meadow Secondary School Grade 10 student, who came from Jamaica to join her dad, died from blunt force injuries.
Her father Frederick Gayle and stepmom Elizabeth Gayle are facing second-degree murder charges.
Brampton resident Garfield Boothe and his wife Nichelle Boothe-Rowe were charged with second degree murder earlier this month after 10-year-old Shakeil Boothe’s body was found last month in the couple’s home.
The young boy came to Canada from Jamaica two years ago to be with his father.