Second-degree murder convictions against the father and stepmother of seven-year-old Randal Dooley were upheld yesterday by Ontario’s highest court.

A jury convicted Tony and Marcia Dooley in 2002 of murdering the boy in what’s been called one of Canada’s worst child-abuse cases.

Yesterday, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the couple’s argument they should be granted a new trial because the judge made legal errors, which resulted in jury verdicts based on emotion, not evidence.

“Randal’s severely compromised physical condition must have been apparent to the appellants,” the Appeal Court decision reads.

“Neither did anything to protect Randal from further abuse or to obtain the medical assistance needed to keep him alive.”

Randal was born in Jamaica and came to Canada to live with his father and stepmother in November 1997, 11 months before his death.

The key objection raised during the appeal was the trial judge’s failure to specifically instruct the jury not to convict the couple based solely on the evidence of prior abuse.

“The trial judge’s explanation connecting liability for murder to culpability in the fatal assault, repeated at several different phases of the instructions, made it clear to the jury that in arriving at its verdict it must come to grips with the evidence pertaining to the final assault,” the decision reads.

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