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New trial ordered for Calgary man acquitted in assault of 4-year-old girl

The Calgary Courts Centre in Calgary, Alta., Monday, March 11, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)  The Calgary Courts Centre in Calgary, Alta., Monday, March 11, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh) 

A Calgary man acquitted of aggravated assault in connection with injuries a four-year-old girl sustained while in his care will face a new trial after it was determined the original justice made errors.

The Court of Appeal of Alberta determined Tyler Laberge's initial trial included mistakes on the part of the judge in his dismissal of the Crown's expert evidence as speculative.

The victim arrived in hospital after suffering numerous injuries, including a life-threatening head injury, while alone with Laberge.

The girl's mother left the child with Laberge on the afternoon of March 11, 2018 and the girl was watching a movie in her room.  Less than two hours after she left, the mother received a call at work telling her to come home. She arrived to find her daughter non-responsive with her pupils dilated.

Laberge informed the mother that he had found the girl submerged in the bathtub after hearing a loud thud in the washroom and that he had pulled her from the water and performed CPR.

The girl arrived in hospital with numerous injuries including brain swelling, facial abrasions, a goose egg on her head, multiple bruises on her chest, legs, belly, groin and back, and genital swelling and bleeding.

In their decision, the trial judge claimed the testimony of the child abuse physician, who had examined the girl in hospital, was presumptive and "based on an assumption without evidentiary foundation."

In the physician's opinion, the child's injuries were not likely the result of a simple fall.

The judge found the physician's testimony failed to account for some of the other injuries on the girl, which had been spotted by both her swimming instructor and her father the day before she had been left with Laberge, as well as bruising injuries that may have been the result of a fall on a set of bleachers after her swimming lesson.

The judge also chastised the physician for claiming there was an "extremely high likelihood" that the girl's injuries had been inflicted, not accidental, and for not considering the possibility a bathtub fall could have caused a life-threatening head wound.

The three appeal judges determined the judge based his acquittal decision on the fact the two experts who testified, including the child abuse physician, could not rule out with 100 per cent certainty that the girl's injuries were accidental.

The date for Laberge's new aggravated assault trial has not been confirmed.


The original version of story indicated the child died as a result of her life-threatening injuries. Calgary Police Service officials confirm the girl survived. Top Stories

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