would have been given leave: supervisor
Sudbury - Kimberly Rogers would have been given permission to leave her apartment anytime she needed, including to look for employment or to begin a job, her sentence supervisor told a coroners inquest Monday.
Patty Wilkin, a Sudbury-based probation officer with the Ministry of Public Safety and Security, testified that Rogers could have asked for and would likely have received permission to leave her apartment virtually any time she wanted for any number of reasons during her six-month house arrest.
Rogers, 40, was sentenced in April 2001 to a six-month conditional sentence. She was allowed to leave her apartment Wednesday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon to shop, and to attend medical appointments and religious services as needed.
She was also permitted to leave for other purposes with the written permission of Wilkin. These might have included going to the Ontario Works office, to the Sudbury Community Legal Clinic or to Cambrian College, from which she had graduated just before her conviction.
Wilkin said she encouraged Rogers to seek both psychiatric care and new housing, possibly public housing, and that she would issue letters of permission that would allow Rogers to do so.
She also discussed the possibility of Rogers looking for a job. The two decided it wasnt appropriate since Rogers was in the latter stages of her pregnancy.
She had previously worked for two call centres in Sudbury and before that, worked as a waitress and bartender for many years in Toronto.
Rogers didnt want to return to any of these jobs, Wilkin said.
Rogers died in August 2001 during a heat wave. The cause of death was a lethal overdose of anti-depressants.
Wilkin testified that when she first met Rogers on May 2, 2001, Rogers was destitute. She had been cut off Ontario Works permanently, had no means of income, very little family or social support and was heavily indebted.
She owed Ontario Works $13,000, her landlord $1,700 in rent and had $25,000 in student loans.
From traditional support systems, she didnt have very many options, Wilkin said.
She also testified Rogers was exhausted and lethargic, seemed to suffer from low self-esteem, and undiagnosed depression, for which she counselled Rogers to seek psychiatric care.
Jennifer Scott, counsel for the Elizabeth Fry Society, suggested to Wilkin that the conditions of Rogers house arrest were too restrictive.
By May 7 it was clear to you that (Rogers) would have to rely on community groups ... that there was no question she would have to do this to survive, Scott asked Wilkin.
Wilkin responded: Yes.
By the end of May, Rogers, with the assistance of Sudbury Legal Clinic lawyer Grace Kurke, had cobbled together a support network, including the Elizabeth Fry Society and Birth Right.
She was also spending more time with her mother, which Wilkin testified seemed to be important to her.
The legal clinic also helped Rogers obtain social assistance again, and by the end of May, she had her benefits restored pending a constitutional challenge to the lifetime ban that the clinic launched on her behalf.
Wilkin said she scheduled meetings with Rogers every two weeks through the summer in her downtown office. At one point during the summer heat wave, Rogers presented her with a note from Dr. Robert Clendenning, her family doctor, suggesting that Rogers, by then seven months pregnant, was no longer able to walk from her West End apartment to Wilkins downtown office. Rogers requested home visits instead.
Wilkin visited her Hazel Street home once, on July 16, and suggested she look for a new place to live because she didnt think it was a suitable residence in which to care for a baby.
She testified that by then Rogers appeared to be in better cheer and that she was reading up on prenatal care and was making a blanket for the baby.
If Rogers had found a new home or new job, Wilkin said she would have given her immediate permission and petition the court to adjust its sentencing order appropriately.
However, despite the flexibility she offered her, Wilkin said Rogers only twice asked for letters of permission, and only used one of them.
Rogers never indicated she was unhappy with her sentence, or that she wanted its terms altered, Wilkin said.