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Leduc man charged in manslaughter of child to enter plea next month

Number of deaths of children in care increased in province in last few years
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(Stock image/Metro Creative Connection)

A Leduc County resident accused of manslaughter in the death of a five-year-old child who was being fostered in his home is scheduled to enter his plea next month.

Darren Leslie Gardner, 47, was arrested and charged on Oct. 14, after a lengthy investigation.

On June 14, Leduc RCMP were dispatched to assist EMS with the death of a child at a rural residence near Leduc.

The victim was Patience Noskiye, who was living in foster care at time of his death.

Initially, the cause of death was unknown, and the Alberta RCMP Major Crimes Unit and Leduc General Investigative Section was called in to assist.

Gardner was released from custody and had his first court appearance on Nov. 16. He is scheduled to enter his election and plea on Dec. 14, at the Leduc Court of Justice.

READ MORE: Charges laid in connection with death of child

“My heart goes out to every family member, friend, and loved one who is grieving this unimaginable loss. This situation is devastating, and I know this pain and grief will linger for a lifetime,” said Minster of Children and Family Services Searle Turton in a prepared statement.

According to his office’s press Secretary Ashli Barrett, while the ministry has the ability to revoke foster care licences, in this case they have not as the accused had no other children in care in his home, and the matter is now before the courts.

Alberta’s Children’s Services publicly reports all deaths, serious injuries and incidents of children, youth or young adults who are receiving intervention services.

According to statistics reported on open.alberta.ca, there were 17 deaths of child receiving services in Alberta aged 0 to 17, between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2023. Nine other deaths were those aged 18 to 22 years old, for a total of 21 deaths in six months.

Of the 21 deaths, four were ruled accidental and 16 are pending.

Numbers includes those who have had an intake started but may not have been receiving services yet.

Data reported shows an average of 30 deaths per year from 2014 to 2019-20, with an increase in subsequent years to 50 deaths in 2022-23.

Over the last 10 years, 19 deaths of children and youth receiving services were ruled homicides.

Support resources

Services and resources that support the health, safety and security of Albertans are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

- Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-387-5437

- Family Violence Info Line 310-1818 (toll free)

- Mental Health Help Line 1-877-303-2642.



Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I’m Emily Jaycox, the editor of Ponoka News and the Bashaw Star. I’ve lived in Ponoka since 2015 and have over seven years of experience working as a journalist in central Alberta communities.
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