The brazen, brutal killing of a 16-year-old boy during a drug and alcohol fuelled party in Smiths Falls, Ontario, took place 22 years ago. The subsequent discovery of the buried body over a year later, the arrests, and the trial made for sensational newspaper headlines. In some respects, this is a crime that is centuries in the making.
The victim, Teddy Bellingham, was a First Nation citizen who had been taken from his family at the age of two to be placed in a series of foster homes. The killer, Steven Allen, 22, had initially befriended Teddy but turned on him in a blind rage, savagely beating him to death while at least five other people watched.
In the years since Teddy’s 1992 murder, countless numbers of First Nation children, and women, continue to experience similar fates – from the damage inflicted by inadequate child welfare systems, to the sudden disappearances as a result of fatal encounters with the wrong kind of people.
In 2014, there are approximatley1,200 known cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. In 2014, fully half of all Canadian children in care under the age of 14 are Aboriginal. In 2014, the tragic circumstances that led to the death of Teddy Bellingham have faded from public memory.
When Teddy’s killer was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 1996, the internet was still in its infancy. As a result, there are no online newspaper records. The only media reference to Teddy is an April 12, 2008 Ottawa Citizen story about the “spirit of a long-dead Indian boy” being the inspiration for a proposed First Nation youth resort near Ottawa.
A search though newspaper archives, and access to information requests, reveals the horrific episode that shocked the Ottawa Valley, and briefly galvanized Ontario’s First Nation community. Teddy’s murder sparked calls for a thorough investigation of the Brockville Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and a coroner’s inquest. The inquest never happened. A heavily redacted report by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services deleted all references to the role played by the local CAS.
Since Allen’s sentencing in 1996, there have been no updates in the media despite the fact he was twice denied parole. Since his release from prison in 2006, Allen has returned to Smiths Falls and remains a violent offender, having run-ins with police and most recently convicted for assault in 2013. One reason why the public is unaware is the fact that many local media no longer have the resources to cover court cases.
In an April 2014 interview, John Waugh, the former Crown Attorney who prosecuted the Allen trial, said the case still remains the most horrific one he has been involved in: “In over 30 years as a Crown Attorney and Assistant Crown Attorney, I have never come across a case of that magnitude,” said Mr. Waugh, who noted he could not comment on details of the case as he is currently a sitting judge. “I still feel very strongly about this case and just spoke about it with others who had been involved a few months ago.
“The more people who become aware of the Bellingham case, the more it might help close up the cracks in order to prevent more children like Teddy from falling through,” added Mr. Waugh.
Teddy’s story must be told to remind Canadians of the daily struggles faced by First Nations to overcome the barriers placed before them as a result of many decades of bureaucratic indifference and incompetence. Teddy was a ward of the Crown when he was killed at the age of 16. He was also another victim in a dysfunctional relationship with the Crown that can be traced back 250 years.
When First Nations ratified the Royal Proclamation of 1763 by signing the Treaty of Niagara in 1764, they expected to be equal partners with the British Crown. For a brief period, First Nations were equals. They were critical allies in the War of 1812—without First Nation support against the Americans, Canada may never have existed. First Nations were also the guides and entrepreneurs who enabled the Hudson’s Bay Company to become the world’s first large corporation.
However, in order to create a new country, the original inhabitants were expelled from their lands and treated as expendable peoples, exiled to small reserves. Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, was also in charge of Indian Affairs. He ordered the displacement of thousands of First Nation peoples to accommodate the huge influx of immigrants from Britain and Europe.
Instead of living on the richest land for agriculture, hunting and fishing, First Nations were relocated to much smaller reservations, where they had to seek permission from the local white Indian agent in order to leave their community. Many First Nation communities in western Canada received food rations from the federal government, which resulted in high levels of malnutrition, disease, and death.
Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie summed it up perfectly in the June 2014 edition of Report On Business magazine: “They gave the best land to the European newcomers and stuck the Indians back in the bush and gave them bread and water and a Bible.”
The residential school system – mostly run by the Catholic and Anglican churches, and funded by the federal government -- began in the 1840’s. By the 1920’s, nearly all First Nation children were taken from their parents in order to “kill the Indian in the child”, according to Department of Indian Affairs policy. In fact, thousands of children did not survive residential schools and are buried in unmarked graves. The last residential school closed in 1996.
Generations of First Nations continue to suffer from the lingering abusive effects of residential schools, as well as the “60’s scoop” which saw thousands of children forcibly taken from their families from the 1960s to 1980s. Today, First Nation children in care are at least three times higher in number than the amount of children at the height of the residential school system. There is also a new phrase for today’s outrageously high number of First Nation children in care: “The Millennium Scoop”.
Into all of this despair and dysfunction, Teddy was born in 1975 at Cape Croker, now known as the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, located on the Bruce Peninsula, 220 kilometres north of Toronto. The traditional name of the Ojibway community is Neyaashiinigmiing Anishinaabekiing, and it is part of the traditional Saugeen Nation Ojibwa territories.
In 1836, the Saugeen Nation signed a Treaty with the Crown, handing over 1.5 million acres of “the very richest land in Upper Canada”. In return for land the Saugeen had lived upon for over 2,000 years, they were placed on small reserves and under the paternalistic care of the federal Crown and later Department of Indian Affairs.
Today, the Chippewas of Nawash reserve measures just 64 square kilometres. By contrast, the southern Ontario Town of New Tecumseh – named after the Chief who helped the British defeat the Americans in the War of 1812 -- measures 274 square kilometres. At a May 2014 conference in Fort McMurray, Alberta, former Ontario Premier Bob Rae called the Treaties a “trillion dollar exchange” in favour of Canada: "It's ridiculous to think people would say: I have all this land, millions and millions and millions of acres of land, I'm giving it to you for a piece of land that is 5 miles by 5 miles and a few dollars a year. To put it in terms of a real estate transaction, it's preposterous, it doesn't make any sense."
Teddy was one of four children – he had a sister and two older brothers – who were placed in foster care. After spending time in foster homes in Toronto, Teddy and his siblings ended up with their new adoptive family – the Bellinghams – who raised them on a farm near Kemptville in eastern Ontario.
By all accounts, the Bellinghams were a kind and caring family who wanted to provide the love and support that Teddy and his brothers and sister had failed to find until then. While Teddy showed talent at carving and knitting, he had a hard time remembering to do simple functions. He also didn’t seem to understand the difference between right and wrong.
As he became a teenager, Teddy’s erratic behaviour included setting fires; making home-made weapons and gasoline bombs; and stealing so frequently that the Bellinghams had to padlock their bedroom door. By 1990, the Bellinghams could no longer look after Teddy. He was placed in the care of the Brockville Children’s Aid Society.
Instead of receiving the proper treatment and counselling required to hopefully become a productive member of society, Teddy was again shuffled into a series of foster homes in Brockville and Oxford Mills. At one of the foster homes, a 90-year-old woman, blind in one eye, looked after Teddy and several developmentally delayed adults.
When Teddy turned 16, he was living at a group home in Smiths Falls, an eastern Ontario town of about 10,000, located 80 kilometres southeast of Ottawa. It was in this town that he encountered Steve Allen, who was nearly six years older. Allen was also a much bigger man, standing 6 feet two inches and weighing 220 pounds compared to Teddy’s five foot five inches and 120 pounds.
Together, they made an odd couple walking the streets of Smiths Falls. Teddy was referred to as Steve Allen’s “sidekick’ or “Steve’s kid.”
Smiths Falls was known as “Little Chicago” as a result of its violent reputation. In 1991, it had more people per capita on welfare than anywhere else in the Ottawa Valley, and the fourth highest crime rate per capita in Canada. According to newspaper reports, many residents seemed to enjoy the status of living in “the toughest town in the Valley”.
Around the same time that Teddy arrived in town, the Smiths Falls Police, OPP and RCMP were conducting a drug sting operation. Undercover officers bought so much cocaine from “high level” dealers that they ran out of money within two months. In September 1992, 11 town residents were arrested for trafficking cocaine.
The October 2, 1993 edition of the Ottawa Citizen reported on the town’s dubious reputation:
"All you hear is `Murder in Smiths Falls; Sex Assault in Smiths Falls.' I start thinking, what kind of place am I living in?” ,said Tammy Bisonette, who hears what a lot of townsfolk have to say about the two cases through her job at the Tim Horton doughnut shop. "I'm moving as soon as I can, and I'm never coming back. Bisonette, 18, was born and raised in Smiths Falls, a town of 10,000.
Last week Teddy Bellingham’s, decomposed body was found buried outside town, a month after police received a tip that he was slain. Police say Bellingham, 16, had been beaten to death a year earlier, while six men watched, did nothing to stop the assault, and did not report the incident. Three local men have been charged.
And two Smiths Falls men, in their 50s and 60s, face 38 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and incest. The men are alleged to have raped and sodomized 24 children from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s.
"If you go out of town and you say you're from Smiths Falls, it's the first thing that's brought up, said Michelle Conlon, owner of Geno's Hairstyling Salon.” It doesn't give Smiths Falls a good reputation”.
Conlon and Bisonette said they are afraid to walk the streets alone at night since hearing horrific details of the crimes.
According to a May 24, 2014 New York Times article about Tweed, a newly opened legal marijuana producing facility in the former Hershey’s chocolate factory, Smiths Falls still has a serious drug problem:
“Darlene Kantor, 50, works as a building manager, and she says she is thrilled that Tweed came to town with its jobs and millions of dollars of investment. “But my main concern is: Is it going to make the illegal drugs more rampant?” she said.
Some are more skeptical about whether Tweed will be able to provide many jobs. “They were talking about creating jobs and such, and it’s not going to, it’s not going to do anything,” said Andrew Brinkworth, 18, outside the downtown Tim Hortons. “A lot of people here have criminal records, and they’re not going to be able to get a job at the plant if they have a record.”
During the summer of 1992, Teddy didn’t always stay at his group home. He spent some nights either at Allen’s downtown apartment or at a cabin that Allen owned in the woods outside of town. They seemed to get along well and Allen was teaching Teddy how to play the guitar.
That July, Teddy was charged and convicted of stealing a car from an area dealership. He was placed on probation. During the last visit with his probation officer on August 5, 1992, Teddy stated that he wanted to move out of the foster home so he could live full-time with his new friend, Steve Allen.
By the evening of August 5, Teddy would be dead. It would be over a year later – in September, 1993 -- before his body would be discovered in a shallow grave, about 50 kilometres northwest of Smiths Falls. The Brockville CAS never filed a missing person’s report as it should have done. Rumours were spread that Teddy had decided to seek his fortunes out west, which seemed to satisfy any authorities who enquired.
During the 13 months that Teddy’s body went undiscovered the Toronto Blue Jays became the first Canadian team to win the World Series in October, 1992. The Ottawa Senators became Canada’s newest NHL team in the 1992-93 season; and the Montreal Canadiens became the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup in June, 1993.
The year 1992 saw the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada enter into official land claim negotiations with the Algonquin First Nation. The 36,000 square kilometre land claim – stretching from North Bay to Ottawa -- includes Smiths Falls. In 2014, negotiations are still underway. Between 1973 and 2004, only 11 of 116 First Nation land claims were settled in Ontario.
More importantly, during the same time that Teddy was buried, the federal Conservative government’s Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) began its four-year study. The following is an excerpt from the final report:
“We began our work at a difficult time.
We directed our consultations to one over-riding question: What are the foundations of a fair and honourable relationship between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people of Canada?
There can be no peace or harmony unless there is justice… Successive governments have tried - sometimes intentionally, sometimes in ignorance - to absorb Aboriginal people into Canadian society, thus eliminating them as distinct peoples. Policies pursued over the decades have undermined - and almost erased - Aboriginal cultures and identities.
This is assimilation. It is a denial of the principles of peace, harmony and justice for which this country stands - and it has failed. Aboriginal peoples remain proudly different. Assimilation policies failed because Aboriginal people have the secret of cultural survival. They have an enduring sense of themselves as peoples with a unique heritage and the right to cultural continuity.
This is what drives them when they blockade roads, protest at military bases and occupy sacred grounds. This is why they resist pressure to merge into Euro-Canadian society - a form of cultural suicide urged upon them in the name of 'equality' and 'modernization'.
Assimilation policies have done great damage, leaving a legacy of brokenness affecting Aboriginal individuals, families and communities. The damage has been equally serious to the spirit of Canada - the spirit of generosity and mutual accommodation in which Canadians take pride.”
A little over one year after Teddy’s murder, his older brother, Alvie, 23, committed suicide in a Hull jail cell. At the time, Alvie would not have been aware that Ottawa Police had received a tip just several weeks earlier about his brother’s murder.
The Hull Police had arrested Alvie for “causing a disturbance at a restaurant” on the evening of Sunday, August 29, 1993. Sometime between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm the following day, Alvie hanged himself with the drawstring of his sweatpants. It would be another several weeks before his younger brother’s body would be discovered by police.
In July, 2011, convicted sex-offender Jaques Barbier, 39, committed suicide in the same Hull jail. Barbier was a suspect in the disappearance of two teenage girls from the Kitigan Zibi First Nation, 120 kilometres north of Hull/Gatineau.
Maisy Odjick, 16, and Shannon Alexander, 17, disappeared without a trace on September 6, 2008. Barbier, who lived about 10 kilometres from Kitigan Zibi, was questioned by police about the missing girls. Maisy and Shannon are among the growing numbers of missing Aboriginal women. In 2014, there have been repeated calls for a federal-led national inquiry into the crisis-like proportion of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
The tragic death of Alvie Bellingham underlines the daily despair experienced by far too many First Nation citizens who end up in jail or prison as a result of their desperate lives. At the same Hull jail, Gerald Papatie, from the Rapid Lake First Nation, was choked to death by a fellow inmate in March, 2006.
In an April 24, 2014 interview with Kenora Online, Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy noted that 94 per cent of the inmates at the Kenora provincial jail were First Nation citizens. Since 2006, there has been a 46 per cent increase of Aboriginal inmates in the federal prison system alone. As of 2013, 71 per cent of all Aboriginal inmates are First Nation, followed by Metis at 23 per cent and Inuit at 5 per cent.
"When you look at those (Kenora) statistics, in terms of people that are in jail, I don't know if it's so much that they committed serious crimes. I think what we need to understand here, is that yes, Canada has an excellent, excellent legal system, but there is no justice system for First Nations people," said Regional Chief Beardy.
On June 27, 1994, following a preliminary hearing at the Perth courthouse, Steven Allen was ordered to stand trial for the first-degree murder of Teddy Bellingham.
Three other men, who assisted in the removal and burial of Teddy’s body, were ordered to stand trial as accessories to murder after the fact. They were: Shawn Benoit-Lamming, 24, Devon Lee Findlay, 20, and Darren Petersen, 26.
In handing down her ruling, Judge Inger Hansen said the repeated beatings could be seen as evidence the killing was "planned and deliberate, essential elements needed to prove first-degree murder.
In an Ottawa courtroom on March 31, 1995, Benoit-Lamming, Findlay, and Peterson were all found guilty in their roles as accessories to murder. In his ruling, Judge Robert Desmarais said Teddy Bellingham’s murder was “abhorrent and degrading”.
While the maximum sentence for accessory to murder is life in prison, all three men received very minor sentences of only three to nine months in jail, taking into account of having already spent over a year in jail awaiting trial.
The April 1, 1995 edition of the Ottawa Citizen reported:
More than 30 native people demonstrated outside the courthouse before the verdict against what they said would be lenient treatment of the accused.
Stuart Myiow, editor of a newsletter for the Mohawk traditional council at the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal, said he was disappointed in the sentences.
"Everybody is disappointed because the law isn't upheld for natives,'' Myiow said. "If the accused had been native people, the sentences would have been much harder.
"But when there are non-natives against natives, the sentences are a lot less. We believe that the first crime against Teddy Bellingham was taking him off the reserve to live in a non-native home.''
On December 7, 1994, the Privacy Commission of Ontario ordered the Ministry of Community and Social Services to release all CAS documents relating to Teddy Bellingham’s disappearance in order to shed light on the fact that he was not reported missing.
The request for the documents had been made by the Brockville Recorder and Times
On January 5, 1995, the Ministry responded by saying it refused the order since publication of the documents could compromise criminal proceedings. The Ministry announced that it was also seeking a judicial review of the order made by the Privacy Commission of Ontario.
Over five months later, the Ministry finally complied with the order. The June 21, 1995 edition of the Ottawa Citizen reported:
The question of why the CAS failed to report Bellingham’s disappearance has never been answered, which was why the Brockville Recorder and Times applied under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the release of a Ministry of Community and Social Services report that examined the case.
The ministry, and later the attorney general's office, fought the release of the report, claiming it could interfere with the ongoing trials. Two weeks ago, the Divisional Court of Ontario ordered the ministry to hand over the document.
The report exists in several versions, and is accompanied by a list of questions and answers for then Social Services Minister Tony Silipo, presumably as preparation for media interviews.
One of the versions of the report observes that staff at a group home are required to contact police when a ward is missing, and adds: "The CAS file indicates that the group home had stated that they would be contacting police.''
Smiths Falls police maintained they were not contacted.
However, the report continues: ``It is clearly possible that no failure occurred, but this cannot be determined without additional information about the communications between agencies'' between Aug. 3 and 5, 1992.
The report also notes that the Brockville CAS conducted a review of its Crown wards while Bellingham was missing, but that Bellingham’s case was not one of those reviewed.
"This may be an issue for the ministry based on the legislative requirement for an annual review by a director of the status of every Crown ward,'' the report notes.
It concludes: "The ministry needs to be sensitive to the difficulty agencies face in the judgments they make in serving 16 and 17 year olds, particularly those who are wards. When individuals of this age leave service, refuse treatment or in other ways seem to act contrary to their best interest, the CAS has limited power to exert control.''
But all information related to Bellingham disappearance -- that is to say, most of the report -- has been deleted. One reason for the deletions is alluded to in a memorandum to the ministry that accompanies the report.
"One ongoing problem is that the reports purports (sic) to set out certain facts and opinions about matters that might be at issue in an inquest or civil litigation that may ensue. Indeed, the document itself could be the subject of a subpoena in any such proceedings.''
Three months before Steve Allen’s murder trial, another innocent Ojibway was killed. In September 5, 1995, Dudley George was part of a group of First Nations occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park, located on the shores of Lake Huron near Grand Bend, Ontario. They were protesting the fact that the federal government had still not handed back land that had been expropriated from the Stony Point First Nation during World War Two.
The peaceful occupation of the park began on Labour Day, Monday, September 4. Less than two days later, on September 6, George was shot dead by an Ontario Provincial Police officer. In 2003, Attorney General Michael Bryant ordered an inquiry into why an unarmed protester was killed. The following is an excerpt from the Canadian Encyclopedia website:
The Ipperwash Inquiry (2003–2006) revealed a number of problems with the province’s response to the events at Ipperwash Provincial Park. It appeared that several members of the OPP team were either largely ignorant of Aboriginal history and the issues around the protest, or held racist views about Aboriginal people in general. Former Attorney General Charles Harnick also testified that just hours before the shooting, Premier Mike Harris had stated, “I want the f-ing Indians out of the park,” a comment Harris denied making. Justice Sidney Linden found that Harris had likely made the statement, but that it had little effect on the actual events at Ipperwash.
The inquiry also found that Harris and the Ontario government had placed narrow limits on those responding to the situation, by maintaining that the occupation was illegal, and that there would be no third-party mediators and no negotiations. The OPP was criticized for failing to educate their officers regarding Aboriginal rights and issues, and for neglecting to use appropriate mediators or negotiators; the inquiry also revealed problems with communication, and with the system of intelligence gathering, analysis, and transmission.
The federal government, which had not been involved during the crisis, and which had failed to return the land to the Stony Point First Nation in the first place, was also blamed for its part in the tragic outcome.
Justice Linden recommended a number of specific measures, including the immediate return of the army camp to the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation (along with a complete environmental clean-up by the federal government), monetary compensation, and a public apology from the federal government for its failure to return the land as promised. Other recommendations included 1) establishment of an independent body, the Treaty Commission of Ontario, to oversee land claims settlements; 2) increased public education about treaties and land claims; 3) creation of a provincial Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs; 4) creation of a formal consultation committee involving the OPP and Aboriginal organizations; 5) ongoing training and education of OPP leaders in terms of Aboriginal history, customs, and rights; 6) greater transparency and clarity regarding the relationship between police and government; and 7) involvement of the federal government in any Aboriginal occupations or protests, particularly those involving land claims.
The first degree murder trial of Steven Douglas Allen began on December 4, 1995 in a Kingston courtroom. Crown Attorney John Waugh said in his opening address that Teddy Bellingham died a “slow, screaming death” while four other men present did nothing to stop Allen.
On the last day of his life, Teddy Bellingham walked into a nightmare – an apartment full of young white men whose lives revolved around cashing their latest welfare cheques --so they could get drunk on whiskey and moonshine, and stoned on marijuana and hash.
Teddy encountered an enraged Steve Allen who spent an estimated six hours beating him to death over the theft of what turned out to be a trinket worth less than a dollar.
Allen used Teddy’s head as a battering ram, punching a hole in the apartment wall. He also punched, kicked and beat Teddy with a hospital crutch.
At one point, Allen took a break from the slow, tortuous beating in order to drink some of his own home-made whiskey and eat take-out food with his buddies. He joked that the convulsions of his victim were a sign that he was close to death. “The first one is always the toughest,” said Allen, according to a witness.
According to the December 5 edition of the Ottawa Citizen, Betty Laronde, owner of the group home where Teddy was living, recalled that Allen stomped into her house on August 5, 1992. "He was very angry and wanted to know where Teddy was. He told me that Teddy had stolen a diamond ring worth $700 from him. He said he was going to `take his knees out.' ''
Earlier that day, Allen and another friend Larry MacDonald, 26, went to Allen’s cabin where they discovered it had been broken into. Clothing and photos belonging to Teddy had been stolen, along with what Allen believed to be a $700 diamond stone.
MacDonald recalled Allen saying “That little f---ing Indian got the diamond. ''
When MacDonald entered Allen's apartment later that day, "I saw him (Allen) beating on Ted Bellingham. I heard some screaming and pounding.''He said the attack continued through much of the evening. At one point, Allen and at least one other man sat down to eat some Chinese food. Several of the men present had been drinking modest amounts of Jack Daniel's whisky, MacDonald said.
Another of the building's tenants testified she saw Allen and some other men carrying a sleeping bag out of the building. She said she jokingly remarked to them that it looked like a body was inside.
MacDonald, now 29, said he was too scared to do anything at the time or to reveal what he'd witnessed until police knocked on his door a year later. Two of the other men in the apartment that day later moved from town because they feared for their safety, court heard.
"Yes, I felt guilty about not having done anything,'' said MacDonald. "He's (Allen) a lot bigger than me.''
The Kingston Whig-Standard reported in its December 7, 1992 edition on the testimony of Allen’s roommate, 21-year-old Darren Giffen:
Giffen testified that two weeks later, Allen told him during a brief conversation that the teen "got what he deserved." Giffen said Bellingham was beaten for stealing Allen's diamond ring…
Giffen, who shared an apartment with Allen, said he saw Allen kick and punch Bellingham, throw him through a wall and jab him hard in the ribs and head with a crutch. Bellingham died that evening.
Giffen told court that Allen said that's what happened to people who "ripped him off."
The December 8 edition of the Kingston Whig-Standard reported the testimony of 26-year-old witness Darren Badour:
Allen said "the first one's the hardest" on several occasions and would ask, "You think I took it too far?" said Badour. "And he'd start to laugh." The prosecution alleges Allen killed the teen after a 1992 drinking party at his apartment in Smiths Falls.
Badour, 26, said that after Bellingham died, Allen told several people at the apartment to keep quiet about what happened. Everyone obeyed because they feared retaliation from the bigger and stronger Allen, he said.
On the day of the party, Badour said he was at a friend's house when Allen asked for help "because the kid was out cold."
Badour told the court he went back to Allen's home, where the bloody and semi-conscious Bellingham lay moaning in a hallway. Whenever Bellingham made a sound, Allen kicked the teen or whacked him in the ribs with a crutch, said Badour. When Bellingham stopped breathing, Badour said he tried to revive him.
The December 9 edition of the Ottawa Citizen reported that Badour was the key witness for the prosecution:
Badour, who witnessed part of the killing, has received immunity from prosecution for his role in helping bury Bellingham’s body. In exchange, he led police 14 months later to the shallow grave in a woods northwest of Smiths Falls. Bellingham, a ward of the local Children's Aid Society, had never been reported missing to police.
On the day of the killing, Badour, then 22, entered Allen's apartment and found Bellingham lying on a floor bleeding. Badour and three other men inside the apartment have testified Allen delivered a vicious pounding to the teen that lasted for a few hours while others sat around drinking whisky and smoking hashish.
A short time later, Badour said, Bellingham began convulsing. Allen, said, "That's a sign of somebody dying,'' Badour recalled. Bellingham soon stopped breathing, Badour said.
He told court that Allen wrapped the body in a sleeping bag and, along with at least one other man, they carried it to a waiting car trunk and drove to a hunting camp about 50 kilometres from town. They dragged the body into some bushes and left.
Equipped with a mask and handkerchiefs soaked in aftershave to ward off the odor of the decomposing body, they returned and buried Bellingham.
Badour, like all the other eyewitnesses to testify this week, said he kept silent because he feared Allen. ``After seeing what he did to that lad, I wasn't taking a chance of being next. I've had nightmares every night since it happened. They don't go away,'' he said.
The December 12 edition of the Citizen reported the testimony of accused killer, who claimed he was being framed by both his friends and the police:
Allen testified Monday that he had no motive to kill Bellingham and wasn't even present when the 16-year-old died in Allen's Smiths Falls apartment Aug. 5, 1992.
Under intense cross-examination by Crown Attorney John Waugh, Allen, 25, remained unshaken about his innocence, but unclear about the reason for a conspiracy.
Why, asked Waugh, would your friend Darren Badour testify that you killed Bellingham?
"I don't know,'' said Allen.
Why, Waugh shot back, would another friend, Rodney Masters, testify against you?
"I have no idea.''
Do you believe there was a conspiracy against you?
"Yes, I do,'' replied Allen.
"Paddy Dolan,'' said Allen. Dolan is the Smiths Falls police sergeant who arrested him.
Why, inquired Waugh, would the Smiths Falls police force decide to frame you?
"I don't know.''
Allen, the only witness called by his defence team to refute the first-degree murder charge against him, told the jury a dramatically different version of events than the five key prosecution witnesses who previously testified.
They've alleged Allen was furious over a diamond he believed Bellingham had stolen from him, and vowed to punish the teen. When Bellingham showed up at Allen's apartment that night, they testified Allen beat him to death and then ordered his friends to help him bury the body in a wooded area.
Allen described himself as a big brother figure to Bellingham -- known around town as ``Steve's kid'' -- who taught the teen guitar and offered him a place to stay when Bellingham temporarily left the local group home where he lived as a ward of the Children's Aid Society.
The morning of Aug. 5, Allen said he walked Bellingham to a road leading from town where the teen planned to hitchhike to Brockville (for a meeting with his parole officer). "I seen him off at the lights and I gave him $10 for lunch.''
Allen and two other men later travelled to a nearby cabin Allen had, and found it had been broken into. The only things missing, Allen said, were some photographs and clothes belonging to Bellingham, leading him to believe Bellingham was responsible.
Allen denied other witnesses' testimony that he was enraged because a valuable diamond was also missing. The friend who gave him the ring has testified it was a quartz-type trinket worth about $1.
That afternoon, Bellingham showed up at Allen's apartment, where Allen and a few other men were smoking hashish and drinking Jack Daniels whisky and some potent homemade whisky Allen had distilled.
Allen admitted taking Bellingham into a bedroom and, while getting him to confess to the cabin burglary, slapped him twice on the head. He said he then took two more swigs of the moonshine and left the apartment.
When he returned a few hours later, he found Bellingham lying dead in the hallway. "I couldn't believe it.'' He said he never asked the others still in the apartment how Bellingham how died because I" didn't want to know.'' He said they decided to get rid of the body "because none of us wanted to go to the police.''
Bellingham’s corpse was dumped about 50 kilometres away, though Allen maintains he was passed out drunk during much of the car ride there and back. Allen said he and two other friends returned a couple of weeks later and buried the body.
The jury begins deliberating today.
The December 13, 1995 edition of the Ottawa Citizen reported on what most people had not anticipated – a guilty verdict on the lesser charge of manslaughter:
The verdict, which took the jury almost nine hours to reach Tuesday, brought tears of relief to the eyes of defence lawyer Felicity Hawthorn and angry groans from Bellingham’s supporters.
Prosecutor John Waugh and police who worked on the case looked stunned. As he has throughout the seven-day trial, Allen, 25, showed no emotion.
He has maintained he did not beat Bellingham to death, claiming he was framed for the slaying by police and several friends who witnessed Bellingham’s killing in Allen's Smiths Falls apartment.
Allen faces a sentence ranging from parole to life imprisonment. Conviction on the first-degree murder charge would have meant life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.
While the seven-man, five-woman jury found Allen to blame for the death, it indicated by its rejection of the first-degree murder charge that it was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill the 16-year-old aboriginal youth during an Aug. 5, 1992, beating.
Witnesses testified the attack lasted several hours. Bellingham’s body was secretly buried in a wooded area. Almost 13 months later, a Crime Stopper's tip led police to the grave.
"Twelve people today decided that Steve Allen is not a murderer,'' said Hawthorn. "While the verdict reflects some culpability, I think the outcome is a vindication.''
Bellingham was a ward of the local Children's Aid Society, but his disappearance was never reported to police. And at least four men who witnessed the prolonged beating did nothing to stop it and kept silent for more than a year.
Those issues and others may be examined at a coroner's inquest into the death, under consideration by regional coroner Benoit Bechard. A final decision won't be made until it's known whether Allen will appeal the conviction.
Allen's mother, Sharon, had mixed emotions when the jury reached its verdict shortly before 8 p.m. "I'm sorry we're not taking him home, but that day will come. Hopefully, someday the truth will come out'' about the alleged conspiracy to frame Allen, she said.
On the other side of the courtroom, Bellingham’s aboriginal friends and supporters angrily denounced what they see as a second-class justice system for native peoples.
"This doesn't say very much for being a First Nations person in this country,'' said Alex Akiwenzie, president of the Ottawa Native Concerns Committee, whose members have monitored all of the cases proceedings in court. Teddy 'hasn't received justice. Everybody failed him.''
The December 22, 1995 edition of the Ottawa Citizen reported that Crown Attorney John Waugh had filed a request with Attorney General Charles Harnick to have Steve Allen declared a dangerous offender:
If Allen were declared a dangerous offender, as Paul Bernardo recently was for his role in a series of rapes and killings, Allen would be sent to prison indefinitely. Allen's other convictions include shoplifting, an assault and threats. He is also going to trial next month for the alleged assault of two prison guards in Brockville.
A dangerous offender sentence is often considered to be more severe than a first-degree murder sentence because it can, theoretically, continue until the prisoner dies. Manslaughter sentences range from immediate parole to life in prison…
Since 1992, the Attorney General has permitted 33 dangerous offender applications, said Sheilagh Stewart, of the department's Toronto office. Of those, 18 criminals were declared dangerous offenders, one was refused, and 14 cases are pending. Waugh explained his move by referring to a section of the Criminal Code that allows dangerous offender status for someone who has committed only one crime -- if it was ``so brutal that it makes one think whether . . . the individual can control himself.''
The February 2, 1996 edition of the Kingston Whig-Standard reported that Allen had been sentenced to five months for assaulting three guards at the Brockville Jail while awaiting trial for the murder of Teddy Bellingham. He had head-butted one guard and punched two others in the face:
It took four guards to subdue Steve Allen, 26, after he became upset and threatened a youthful inmate who spilled his tea, court heard.
Judge Rommel Masse said five months in jail is a fair sentence since Allen had not been convicted of manslaughter at the time of the assaults last August. "But your behavior in jail is reprehensible. Threatening a young person because he spilled your tea?"
The March 2, 1996 edition of the Ottawa Citizen reported the sentencing of Teddy Bellingham’s killer:
The sister of an aboriginal boy savagely beaten to death in 1992 -- and Indians from as far away as the Bruce Peninsula -- are proclaiming justice after a 25-year sentence was handed to the Smiths Falls man convicted of the slaying.
The sentence offers a measure of redemption for the aboriginals, who blame a ``white man's system'' for dragging Theodore Joseph Bellingham, 16, from his birthplace on a Chippewa reserve, through a non-aboriginal Children's Aid Society, to his death in a Smiths Falls apartment filled with drunk, stoned white men.
Ontario Court Justice Douglas Cunningham sent a strong message when he sentenced Steven Douglas Allen to 25 years for manslaughter. People on all sides of the case expressed surprise, and even shock, at the severity of Friday's sentence. Allen will be eligible for parole in seven years.
Speaking in an Ottawa courtroom packed with 75 people, Cunningham called Teddy Bellingham's death "particularly brutal,'' and blamed Allen for betraying Teddy's trust in him in a "heartless and callous fashion.'' Teddy had looked up to the bigger, stronger and older Allen, and was considered his "sidekick'' around town.
"We must send a clear and loud message to the community that senseless and vicious beatings will not be tolerated,'' Cunningham said.
The judge's words mirrored those of Crown attorney John Waugh, who asked for a sentence of 25 years to life, and urged the court to choose a sentence aimed at deterring Allen from re-offending and deterring others from committing similar crimes of ``stark horror.''
"Whatever sentence you impose, the accused will have a life,'' Waugh said. "Teddy Bellingham never reached his 17th birthday.''
In the sentencing, the judge took into account Allen’s previous criminal record, including two convictions since his arrest for Teddy's death. Allen pleaded guilty to threatening his mother and was given a suspended sentence in 1993. More recently, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five months for each of three charges of assaulting prison guards at the Brockville jail.
Allen’s Kingston lawyer, Felicity Hawthorn, said she intends to file an appeal on the sentence Monday in Toronto. "I think the judge was wrong.''
A decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal could come within six months, Hawthorn said.
Allen’s mother, Sharon, reacted to Cunningham's sentence with bitterness towards a justice system that she says failed her son. Allen and his family continue to insist that the 26-year-old is the victim of a conspiracy, a frame-up by the Smiths Falls police force and Allen’s former buddies, who testified against him in his December trial.
"The truth can't be buried forever,'' Sharon Allen told the Citizen.
The sentence was a form of payback for aboriginals who have followed the case, only to see Allen acquitted of first-degree murder in December by an all-white Kingston jury and convicted of the lesser offence of manslaughter. They blame a "white-man's'' justice system for the wrongs that have been done to Teddy since he became a ward of the Children's Aid Society at the age of two and was shunted between non-aboriginal foster and group homes.
Two dozen aboriginals, including Teddy's aunt, Alvera Solomon, took a 12-hour bus ride from Teddy's birthplace, the Cape Croker Reserve near Wiarton, Ont., to be in Ottawa for the sentencing. Along with Ottawa aboriginals who have lobbied for justice since Allen’s arrest, they celebrated Friday with a drum-pounding victory song, speeches and a reception at a local church.
Many people, including Allen’s lawyer Hawthorn, said they felt the presence of the aboriginals throughout the trial and at the sentencing had an impact on the judge's decision.
Teddy was beaten for hours to his death during a drunken, drug-fuelled party at Allen’s Smiths Falls apartment on Aug. 5, 1992. Four men testified that Allen alone administered a brutal, methodical beating to Teddy's slight body, kicking him when he was down and using his head as a battering ram. All of this, because he suspected Teddy of stealing a trinket of little value.
Allen told court that he only slapped Teddy twice on the head, left his apartment, and returned several hours later to find Teddy dead.
The case has fuelled intense debate on several issues and has left many questions unanswered regarding, among other things, the role of the CAS in responding to and reporting Teddy's disappearance. There was also public outrage over the fact that several men watched Teddy die and said nothing about it publicly until questioned by police more than a year later.
Aboriginals are calling for a moratorium on the adoption of native children by non-native families, according to a letter sent February 20th by Bellingham's native band, the Chippewas of Nawash, to Ontario Attorney-General Charles Harnick…
And the aboriginal activists who championed their peoples' causes in Teddy's honor will chalk up this one victory, and continue fighting their war.
If Steve Allen served his entire 25 year sentence, theoretically, he could still be behind bars. Instead, he was first released on February 18, 2006. What has never been reported until now is that in September, 2000, Allen’s original 25-year sentence was reduced on appeal to 15 years. However, on his first two appearances before the Parole Board of Canada (PBC), Allen was denied full parole on January 31, 2001 and November 25, 2004.
While full details of PBC decisions cannot be publicized so as to not adversely affect the re-integration of the offender into society, it appears that Allen has had difficulty re-integrating as a law-abiding citizen.
During his time in prison, Allen showed no remorse and maintained his innocence in the murder of Teddy Bellingham, blaming the authorities and his friends for framing him. He participated in prison disturbances, initially refused to take anger management courses, and was caught making home-made alcohol.
The PBC rendered two post-release decisions on November 22, 2007 and July 15, 2010 following incidents in which the Smiths Falls Police were involved. In order to not adversely affect the offender’s re-integration into society, the details of these events cannot be published.
Allen still haunts the streets of Smiths Falls. On December 6, 2012, he was charged for assaulting two men, as well as uttering “a threat to cause death”. On October 31, 2013 – Halloween – Allen, now 44, was found guilty on two counts of assault, and not guilty of uttering a death threat. He received a six month conditional sentence and placed on probation for 12 months. His probation will conclude on May 1, 2015.
Was justice served? It is hard to fathom the fact that someone who deliberately beats to death another human being; cleans up the blood; repairs the damage in his apartment; hides the body, buries the body several weeks later, and intimidates friends into silence is not guilty of first degree murder. This is not the case of “Oh my God, what have I done? I must turn myself in to the police.”
This is a case of cold-blooded murder and a cover-up that lasted for over a year. This is a case where the convicted killer has never admitted his guilt, nor apologized to the victim’s family. And now there is confirmation the killer remains a dangerous, violent individual.
If Teddy were to be alive today, he would be a relatively young man, turning 39 in September, 2014. Would he have re-connected with his birth parents? Would he have have gone back home for the Chippewas of Nawash annual pow-wow every August? Would he have pursued his artistic and musical talents? Would he be a fan of bands like A Tribe Called Red – the Juno award-winning group that blends traditional drumming with electro-pop dance music?
If Teddy were alive, no doubt he would have followed the career of another Ojibway with the same first name – Ted Nolan of the Garden River First Nation. Nolan is the current coach of the Buffalo Sabres and a former NHL Coach of the Year. His son, Brandon Nolan, just won the Stanley Cup in June 2014 -- the second time in three years -- with the Los Angeles Kings. Would Teddy have been full of pride watching First Nation goaltender Carey Price – his mother Lynda was a chief -- lead Canada to a hockey gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics?
If Teddy were alive today, would he watch the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN)? Would he have visited the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) website? Both APTN and the AHF were created as a direct result of recommendations made by RCAP. APTN is going strong but the AHF is officially ending its mandate in September, 2014. The Mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) ends in June, 2015.
Would Teddy have shed a tear – like so many First Nations and Canadians did -- when Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to Residential School Survivors on June 11, 2008? Would he be wondering today if the promises made in that apology were empty and hollow ones? Would he be supporting the Idle No More movement that has grown in reaction to the currently perceived federal right-wing agenda against First Nations?
If Teddy were alive today, would he be aware of the current human rights case on First Nations child welfare? The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFS) and the Assembly of First Nations filed a human rights complaint in 2007 alleging that the federal government has deliberately underfunded child care on reserve. After numerous appeals by the government and over $3 million in lawyers’ fees, in 2014 the case is still before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
Cindy Blackstock, FNCFS Executive Director, said in a March 10, 2014 speech at the University of Saskatchewan that underfunding on reserves is leading to other trends like high dropout rates, high numbers of children in child welfare, and high addiction rates on reserve. "It's because they are not getting the same opportunities that other Canadian children deserve," she said.
"There is absolutely no excuse to me that a child in Canada does not have clean water, does not have sanitation, does not have a proper education, does not have the same opportunity to grow up in their families. It's unacceptable in a nation as wealthy as ours. If there are jurisdictional matters that get in the way of that then fix it."
"A sustainable culture, a sustainable country, and a sustainable economy depends on the healthy generations that follow you. We are going to be leaving them a Canada that none of us should feel proud of," she said.
"We started out with about one per cent of First Nations children in child welfare care. Then it went up to 20 per cent... then up to 80 per cent and nobody said when do we press the alarm bell?... We normalize it and that's a great disservice to those kids because there is nothing normal about being 12 times more likely to be in foster care in a province as good and great and wealthy as this one."
The simple solution to prevent more tragedies like Teddy Bellingham is to end the cycle of poverty and despair which has led to ever increasing rates of child welfare, incarceration, suicide, violence, missing and murdered women. In May 2014, United Nations Special Rapporteur James Anaya reported that poverty rates in many First Nation communities have not changed over the past decade.
“It is difficult to reconcile Canada’s well-developed legal framework and general prosperity with the human rights problems faced by indigenous peoples in Canada that have reached crisis proportions in many respects,” said the 2014 UN report. “Moreover, the relationship between the federal government and indigenous peoples is strained, perhaps even more so than when the previous special rapporteur visited Canada in 2003.”
Nearly every major study and commission, including RCAP and Ipperwash, recommends that land claims be settled as quickly as possible. Once First Nations have access to quality education and economic opportunities, the cycle of poverty and despair should slowly grind to a halt within our lifetimes.
In fact, former Premier Bob Rae is the chief negotiator for the Matawa First Nations of northern Ontario in their current negotiations with the province on resource revenue sharing in the Ring of Fire mining area. Former Solicitor Generals Charles Harnick and Michael Bryant now specialize in representing First Nations in land claim negotiations. Mr. Bryant also works with former National Chief Phil Fontaine, who has now devoted his career to economic empowerment for First Nations.
In closing, the parallel between Smiths Falls and far too many First Nation communities is remarkable: high unemployment rates; violence; drug abuse; and the resulting criminal records that prevent meaningful employment. All of this contributes to the cycle of evil which results in senseless murders like Teddy Bellingham’s. All of this contributes to that sense of feeling trapped in a place with no hope for a better future.
On the other hand, everyone in Smiths Falls has access to a quality grade school and high school education – something that is still simply unattainable in many First Nation communities. Smiths Falls also has the benefit of location – on a road and rail system, as well as the Rideau Canal, geographically centered between Montreal and Toronto, and not far from the US border.
According to the town’s website: “Sensational Smiths Falls offers a number of existing facilities for commercial, industrial, and office space in prime locations within the downtown commercial area and in designated industrial areas”. Perhaps when the Algonquin land claim is settled, Smiths Falls may benefit from potential investors with a stake in prime territory that has rightfully been theirs for thousands of years.
A better future for Canada’s First Nations is still within reach. To paraphrase RCAP, once justice is served there will finally be peace and harmony. The “spirit of a long dead Indian boy” may one day see his peoples living on equal terms with all Canadians.
Teddy’s story – and thousands of others like his -- is not over. This website will be continuously updated. The author welcomes any comments and input. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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