By Connor Lynch
OWEN SOUND — A Grey County farmer convicted of criminal negligence in the death of his son was sentenced to three years of probation and 240 hours of community service.
Mennonite farmer Emanuel Bauman was charged last year after his son Steven fell out of the bucket of a skid steer Bauman was operating. Steven suffered injuries to his head and later died. Bauman was driving forward and looked back at his trailer dumping wood chips on the driveway when Steven fell out of the low-hanging bucket at the front end. When Bauman looked ahead and couldn’t see his son in the bucket, he stopped, backed up and realized that Steven’s head had been trapped underneath the bucket.
This could be the first case of a farmer charged and convicted in the death of his own son in an on-farm accident, according to the Crown attorney, who could not find any other case in Canada.
“Mr. Bauman appears before me today as a father who has always accepted full responsibility for his young son Steven’s death on Aug. 31, 2018. From the first day he appeared in my court, he wanted to enter a guilty plea to the criminal negligence causing death charge,” wrote Justice Morneau in her Aug. 8 sentencing hearing at Owen Sound Court of Justice.
The courts recommended that he seek legal advice before entering a plea. After doing so, Bauman pleaded not guilty and was convicted in May. “The facts, though tragic, are not complicated,” wrote Morneau, noting in her earlier judgement that Bauman himself had acknowledged to police that Steven should not have been in the bucket of the skid steer.
The Crown had pushed for a two-year sentence, less a day, with three years of probation to follow. Bauman’s defence lawyer, Douglas Grace, argued for the suspended sentence, wherein an offender is put on probation for a period not longer than three years.
A pre-sentence report was “unreservedly positive,” Morneau wrote. Since the accident, Bauman has changed practices around the farm, and put in a new driveway and fencing to keep his other children safe. Other farmers in the area have done the same, Morneau wrote.
Two of the main factors Morneau considered in her sentencing were deterrence to Bauman, and deterrence to other farmers. Bauman needed no other deterrence, Morneau concluded, nor did other farmers. “I am satisfied that any farmer or other person operating heavy equipment in the course of a farm operation is more likely to be deterred from risking a child’s safety by the prospect that the child could die — than by the prospect of going to jail.”
Bauman told the court he would be willing to talk to the farming community about child safety on the farm. Morneau ruled that that’s how he would spend his 240 hours of community service.
Farmer convicted of criminal negligence in child’s death given three years of probation
By Connor Lynch