VICTORIA, B.C. - The tragic stabbing death of a six-year-old Victoria area boy at the hands of his father two years ago was a "disturbing" example of the lack of co-ordination of services in domestic abuse cases, British Columbia's independent children's representative declared Thursday.
In an 88-page report, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, recounted the violent death of Christian Lee, who was stabbed to death by his father, Peter Lee, in September 2007. Christian's mother, Sunny Lee, and her parents were also slain before Peter Lee turned his knife on himself in the couple's upscale home in Oak Bay, near Victoria.
Peter Lee was under court order at the time stay away from his wife.
In her report, entitled Honouring Christian Lee, Turpel-Lafond said the necessary components to protect children like Christian are still not in place.
The report found that in the six weeks prior to the deaths of Christian and his family, their lives crossed paths with many service providers, including two municipal police departments, an RCMP detachment, provincial social workers and staff, medical staff, Crown counsel, two therapists and several lawyers.
But these experienced and professional bodies were not working together and a human tragedy followed, the report said.
"As a province, we have to find a better way to assist those living in domestic violence, better than what was provided to Sunny Park and Christian Lee and Christian Lee's grandparents," Turpel-Lafond said at a press conference.
"This is a major public safety issue in British Columbia," she said. "My best estimate is in the last five years in British Columbia there have been 70 homicides related to domestic violence."
Her investigation found that there was no communication or co-ordination between the child welfare and criminal justice systems, the report said.
Turpel-Lafond recommended a special justice initiative headed by the Solicitor General's Ministry that focuses on the safety of children and youth in domestic violence situations, as well as dedicated domestic violence courts, headed by the Ministry of the Attorney General.
She said a co-ordinated system linking the criminal, child welfare and family justice systems could have made a difference in the Lee tragedy.
A coroner's inquest was held last year into the murder-suicide. The inquest heard chilling details of what police found after they were summoned to the family's house in the Victoria suburb of Oak Bay by a hysterical 911 call on Sept. 4, 2007.
Sunny Park was stabbed 49 times and six-year-old Christian was also stabbed repeatedly before his father turned the weapon on himself. Park's parents, Kum Lea Chun and Moon Kyu Park, were stabbed repeatedly in the chest and back.
The inquest heard that five weeks before the deaths, Sunny Park told police she was afraid her husband would kill her and her family.
The chilling videotaped interview shown at the inquest was taped by police the day she and Lee were in a car accident that broke her arm and injured her face. Park told police Lee had crashed the vehicle into a hydro pole on purpose because he was angry at her plans to divorce him.
Lee was charged in the car crash but was released on bail. He was under a court order to stay away from his family, but the inquest heard that he had already violated the bail conditions.
Turpel-Lafond said Christian's mom, Sunny, received conflicting advice from three police departments, a social worker and her family lawyer on what she should be doing to protect her son and herself from her husband.
"The responsibility of her safety was left on the shoulders of one person, and that's Christian's mother, Sunny. It illustrates how we don't have in B.C. a co-ordinated domestic response system in place."
Turpel-Lafond said she is meeting with Premier Gordon Campbell in the coming weeks and will raise her concerns.
B.C. Children's Minister Mary Polak said her ministry is reviewing the report. She said the ministry now works more closely with police departments on domestic abuse files.
"Domestic violence is a very complicated issue," she said, insisting that the children's, solicitor general's and attorney general's ministries are already working together.