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Bernie Doyle

Today, 27 years after his wrongful conviction for manslaughter, Bernard Doyle heard the Ontario Court of Appeal quash his conviction and order an acquittal. It is a true exoneration for him.

On August 16, 1996, Tyler Cunningham, a 17-month-old infant, died in Cambridge, Ontario as a result of a terrible accident. Mr. Doyle, then 23 years old, was dancing with his stepson in his arms in his sitting room when he tripped over his roofing tools on the floor and fell forwards onto the floor. The back of Tyler’s head struck the hard edges of the tools, and he was fatally wounded. He died later that day in hospital.

Two pathologists, one of whom was the then Dr. Charles Smith, testified that Tyler could not have died in the manner described by Mr. Doyle. Instead, Mr. Doyle must have shaken Tyler violently and, at the same time, struck him several times on the head. On the basis of this evidence, Mr. Doyle was convicted by a jury in Kitchener of manslaughter and sentenced to 4 years in the penitentiary. He served his full sentence.

Innocence Canada took on Mr. Doyle’s case in 2013. We obtained expert reports from a forensic pathologist, a forensic neuropathologist and a forensic biomechanical engineer who all certified that Mr. Doyle’s original account fully explained all of Tyler’s injuries. The Crown retained its own pathologist, Dr. Michael Pollanen, the Chief Pathologist for the Province of Ontario, who agreed with our experts.

Today, the Court of Appeal heard the new expert evidence, agreed it was decisive of Mr. Doyle’s innocence and entered an acquittal.

For the first time in 27 years, Mr. Doyle who now lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, can hold his head high. He was in court today. He said afterwards:

I am very relieved and grateful for what happened today. The justice system has worked for me at last. But I will never forget Tyler. He was a wonderful boy who had lots of promise. I couldn’t help thinking that he was there with me today.

Bernie Doyle
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