The mother of two children allegedly slain by their father made a frantic cellphone call to police a half hour before a second call, but police were never dispatched, according to officials.

Police released the newest development just hours after charges against the father were upgraded to two counts of first-degree murder during his first court appearance via closed-circuit television.

Steve Dongworth, manager of public safety communications, said the mother expressed concern for her children’s safety during an eight-minute phone call in which the dispatcher “followed protocol” in not sending out a unit to the home.

“The caller was very emotional, as is usually the case in these check-the-welfare calls,” Dongworth said. “Questions were asked and the information given did not warrant a police officer to attend,” he said, adding they would review the call further but don’t believe an error was made.

Shortly after the first call a second call was made, but police only heard a scream and officials said even if officers had been sent the first time, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

Police Insp. Guy Slater said new information in the case contributed to the upgrade in charges against 43-year-old James Bing Jun Louie, though he couldn’t elaborate.

Louie didn’t speak at the court appearance as his lawyer, Noel O’Brien, had the matter put forward to Dec. 14 so he can receive more details about the case.

“We’re not going to try this case in the media,” O’Brien said outside court when asked to comment. “I’m going to wait until I get the facts from the Crown, and, once we get that, we’ll make our assessment in respect to his mental competence and things of that nature.”
with files from the Canadian Press