AJAs 2016 Finalists


Slug/Label Matthew Rich case
Date Aired or Published Jan. 21, Jan. 27 & Nov. 16, 2016
Media outlet where first aired or published: CBC NL
Name of Program: Here & Now
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: St. John's
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio): Total: 7:38:00

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

In December 2015, a high-profile Labrador homicide case took a dramatic turn when the Crown announced it was withdrawing the murder charge against a man accused of killing his infant son. Critical evidence — the dead child's brain — went missing while in the possession of the Chief Medical Examiner's office. Officials were largely mum. We felt there were unanswered questions about how this could happen. So we used access to information, in an attempt to find out more. Those records revealed that the local health authority had been using the hospital autopsy room to store "wet tissue from both autopsies and surgical specimens that are for disposal." There was “heavy criticism for the potentially toxic environment created by storage and dumping in the hospital autopsy room," the chief medical examiner wrote, in correspondence we obtained via access to information. When they tried to fix the problem, the brain was likely “discarded in error, mistaken for tissue for disposal." The story, which ran in January 2016, made national headlines, and sparked outrage. The baby’s grandfather spoke to us about the mental toll the situation had on his family, and demanded justice for the infant. Within days, Newfoundland and Labrador’s justice minister announced that he would launch a review of the situation. "Like anybody else, when you wake up in the morning and hear a story like this it's upsetting," Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said. "So when I look at something like this, I want answers too." While that review remains ongoing, we reported in November on preliminary findings that identified staffing issues as a major concern. The provincial government has pledged to take action to fix any problems, to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

The story is the result of the work of reporter Ariana Kelland, producer Rob Antle and editor Paul Pickett. Kelland filed the access to information request and wrote the story for TV, radio and online. The story aired nationally. Antle produced the story and offered editorial oversight. Paul Pickett edited the piece. The team in Happy Valley-Goose Bay recorded the interview on deadline with grandfather Sebastian Benuen.

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