A four-year-old Ontario girl who was found dead at the bottom of a cliff with her father was likely killed in a murder-suicide that could have been prevented, a new report says.
Keira Kagan was found dead in February 2020 along with her father, Robin Brown, in Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton, Ont.
A report by the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee, obtained by CTV News Toronto, shows that despite repeated warnings, risk factors, and multiple court hearings, the system failed to protect Keira.
“It has been a nightmare,” Keira’s mother, Jennifer Kagan, said Thursday. “Three years have passed, but for me it is like it happened yesterday.”
The report was obtained by CTV News Toronto on the same day Dr. Dirk Huyer, Chief Coroner for Ontario, announced an inquest will be held into Keira’s death. According to Huyer, the inquest will examine the circumstances surrounding the death, and a jury will make recommendations aimed at preventing further deaths.
The report, compiled by a group of family violence experts, found that Keira’s death “may have been retribution on the part of the father against the mother for terminating the relationship.”
Brown and Kagan had been separated for four years at the time of Keira’s death. Following the divorce, there was “extensive litigation” in family court.
According to the report, Kagan had repeatedly warned the court about Brown’s behaviour, raising “serious issues about Brown’s mental health and inappropriate conduct.”
Court documents, previously provided by Kagan, show a contentious and lengthy custody battle that was before the courts at the time of the deaths. Kagan had brought forward an urgent motion on Jan. 28 2020, seeking a court order to suspend Brown’s joint custody of Keira, or give him only supervised access.
“The judge signaled a potential reduction in father’s parenting time and the Children’s Aid Society communicated their concerns to the mother,” the report found.
Just days before a judge was going to release a decision on reducing Brown’s parenting time, the deaths occurred.
“The Children’s Aid Society worker was considering a protection application but needed to talk to her manager first,” the report said. “However, the mother still had to release her daughter for a weekend visit on Feb. 7, as part of the existing court order. Her daughter died on Feb. 9th.”
According to the report, Brown took his daughter to a cliff in the conservation area that is off the main trail that is “difficult to access.”
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