The system failed them

Some of the testimony at the inquest into the deaths of Robert and Angie Robinson was tough to listen to.

Sitting in the court room last week, some of the testimony at the inquest into the deaths of Robert and Angie Robinson was tough to listen to.

Obviously, hearing about the discovery of the bodies was uneasy for all, as evidenced by the crying family members in the front row and choked up tone of Const. Guillame Belanger as he recounted coming across the mother and son in their home on the evening of April 3, 2014.

While not as emotionally draining as the testimony of the responding officers, the remainder of the week painted the picture of a woman who had many challenges in her life, challenges that seemed to continue piling up until it became too much to bear. And it painted a picture of a woman who needed help — help that was not to be found here in Prince Rupert. But it also painted a picture of a social service network in which every person and organization was trying to do the best they could, but was doing so largely in isolation of each other.

The child protection worker testified that she did not receive any information about Angie’s mental health struggles when she first received a referral in 2013, nor did she receive a history of contact with the RCMP. The RCMP, meanwhile, did not include handling children with disabilities as part of their domestic violence response policy.

The Children and Youth with Special Needs Social Worker testified that while respite was a critical component of helping Angie cope with raising Robbie, there were many times when she couldn’t make it to the respite home because it was 90 minutes away in Terrace and road conditions were often treacherous. When respite was suspended, there were no options presented.

It was also revealed that Angie was admitted to the hospital in 2011 after an attempted suicide, but was on the road shortly after that to pick up her son in Terrace.

In the case of Angie and Robert Robinson, perhaps it is best that the jury in the inquest cannot assign blame. It would be very difficult to point the finger at any one organization as it seems like the entire system failed both the loving mother and her son in need.

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