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Calgary man convicted of killing 3-year-old girl wants second opinion on mental state


A sentencing hearing for a Calgary man convicted of second-degree murder in the beating death of his girlfriend's three-year-old daughter has been delayed because he wants a second opinion on his mental health.

In March, Justin Paul Bennett was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Ivy Wick, the daughter of Helen Wordsworth.

Ivy suffered blunt force trauma injuries on Sept. 27, 2017. She never regained consciousness and died in hospital eight days later.

Bennett had initially told the 911 operator and police that Ivy hit her head after she tripped and fell. He was arrested a year later in connection to the little girl’s death after an undercover police sting.

The 'Mr. Big' operation generated key evidence submitted by the crown. Bennett admitted he beat Ivy after she interrupted his video game.

Undercover officers befriended him as part of a fictitious criminal organization. They told Bennett they could clear his name because they had access to a corrupt medical examiner who could make a fake report. But he had to be truthful about what happened to Ivy.

Bennett said he smashed Ivy in the head, threw her against the wall and tripped her while her mother was in the shower. A videotaped conversation between Bennett and undercover officers was submitted as evidence at trial.

On Wednesday, the matter was put over to Oct. 8, at which time a date is to be set to question the original doctor about his diagnosis.

Bennett's lawyer told the court that his client complained that Dr. Reilly Smith, the psychiatrist who did his assessment, didn't like Bennett and showed bias in his report. 

"He detected a real sense of animosity towards him ... and Dr. Smith's perceived animosity became even more pronounced on numerous occasions when Dr. Smith asked my client to discuss the allegations and circumstances surrounding the death of Ivy Wick," said Alan Fay. 

"He tells me further that very early in the process that Dr. Smith conveyed to him that the ultimate assessment would be a negative one and he would likely be found a significant danger." 

Fay asked Court of Queen's Bench Justice Blair Nixon to order a second assessment because his client couldn't afford to pay for an independent report on his own.

Crown prosecutor Tom Spark told court he would consent to the delay and agreed to have Smith attend court to be questioned on the matter but opposed another psychiatric examination. 

"It's a slippery slope to start ordering second opinions to the hospital every time an offender is displeased with a report and would only contribute further to overwhelming and stretching an already thin system," Spark said.

Fay told reporters outside court that he's familiar with the doctor and has always found him to be fair and competent, but noted he was following his client's instructions.

"I haven't seen this in over 32 years in these courts. I've certainly never done it myself," he said.

But Fay said the psychiatric evaluation could have a major impact during sentencing.

"The issue at sentencing is the period of parole ineligibility. The impact of the psychiatric report frequently does impact on that particular aspect of sentencing."A second-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence with no chance of parole between 10 and 25 years.

A second-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence with no chance of parole between 10 and 25 years. Top Stories

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