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Man who circumcised four-year-old son guilty of negligence

A man who performed an amateur circumcision on his four-year-old son on the floor of the family kitchen has been found guilty of criminal negligence.

The man, identified only as D.J.W. in a written B.C. Supreme Court ruling released this week, was found not guilty of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

Justice Marion Allan said D.J.W. ought to have known better, partly because a circumcision he earlier performed on himself led to bleeding, sutures and infection.

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"The fact that the accused had previously ineptly circumcised himself exacerbates, rather than minimizes, his awareness of the risks of home circumcision and his negligence," she noted.

"I am satisfied that a reasonable person in the accused's circumstances would have appreciated that it was dangerous to attempt a home circumcision on his four-year-old son. His conduct was a marked and substantial departure in all of the circumstances from the standard of care of a reasonable person."

A social services worker with the province came to the boy's home with police after receiving information about the circumcision, and the man was arrested for aggravated assault.

The boy had to be taken to hospital for a proper circumcision. A doctor testified that the boy's penis has healed nicely and looks normal.

A trial last month heard the accused is not Jewish, but follows the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and believed it necessary to circumcise his child before Passover.

The man's lawyer, Doug Christie, told Judge Allan at the outset that he would try to have the case tossed out on constitutional grounds, saying his client's religious motive negated any criminal intent. The judge said Mr. Christie had not given the Crown sufficient notice leading up to the trial but that the lawyers for both sides were now free to address the issue.

The man's son was born two months premature, and weighed 2.5 pounds so was too small to be circumcised at the time.

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The man prepared for his own circumcision by Internet research. Before acting on his son, he did additional research, consulting two rabbis in Vancouver. The man's doctor and a pair of urologists refused to help out.

In April, 2007, D.J.W. dosed his son with honey wine, placed him on clean garbage bags and a diaper on his kitchen floor, and used razor blades boiled in water as well as a veterinary powder suitable for livestock and horses to deal with bleeding. The boy said "ouch," cried for less than two minutes and fell asleep. The father gave the boy ice cream "and told [his son]he could pick all the movies for a week," said the ruling.

The man has been barred from contact with his son.

Sentencing is set for Dec. 10.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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