A father convicted of criminal negligence in his son's death at a Grey Highlands farm will not face imprisonment.
Justice Julia Morneau ordered a suspended sentence and three years probation for Emanuel Bauman at an Ontario Court of Justice hearing in Owen Sound Thursday afternoon.
“Mr. Bauman has suffered the loss of his son Steven,” Justice Morneau said. “There is no more ultimate price than that.”
He was also given a 10 year driving prohibition – although it was noted Bauman doesn't have a driver's licence – and ordered to complete 240 hours of community service.
Bauman, 33, offered little visible reaction in court Thursday when the decision was rendered. In speaking with reporters after the hearing, his defence lawyer Douglas A. Grace described his client as a very quiet, shy and subdued man. He said Bauman gave him no indication of how he was feeling with the ruling but thinks he was very happy.
“I know I am,” Grace said.
Nearly one year ago – on Aug. 31, 2018 – Bauman's four-year-old son, Steven, died in an accident at the Mennonite family's farm on 3rd Concession in Grey Highlands. Steven fell out of the bucket of a skid steer his father was operating and suffered a fatal head injury.
Bauman was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death in May.
The crown was seeking a jail term of two years less a day, three years probation and a driving prohibition of 10 years.
The defence had asked for a suspended sentence and two years probation.
In delivering her decision, Justice Morneau said a presentence report on Bauman was “unreservedly positive”.
She also noted Bauman has made positive changes at the farm to improve child safety since the death of his son Steven.
This was the first criminal law case in Canada where a child had died as a result of a farming incident.
As there was no direct precedent, the sentencing submissions made by the crown and defence for consideration were all automobile related criminal negligence causing death convictions.
Justice Morneau noted excessive speed, erratic driving or alcohol were not factors in Bauman's case – as they were in some of the submissions – and described his conduct as “at the lowest end of the spectrum of deliberate endangerment”.
Morneau also noted because there are no previous reported criminal law decisions in Canada concerning a child's death on a farm, less weight was put on denunciation in sentencing.
In seeking a custodial sentence, the crown had argued those who operate a skid steer or farm equipment need to be shown the courts will consider it harshly if they engage in reckless behaviour.