Bernard Doyle feels “reborn” after manslaughter acquittal

Posted: June 14, 2023 12:57 pm | Last Updated: June 14th, 2023 9:06 pm
By Rosie Mullaley

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For 27 years, he was branded a child killer.

Bernard Doyle says he feels reborn now that his name has been cleared.

The 50-year-old, originally from Bell Island, was acquitted of manslaughter earlier this week by the Ontario Court of Appeal after serving three and a half years in a maximum-security prison.

Doyle was living in Kitchener, Ont., when he was charged in the 1996 death of his partner’s 17-month-old toddler, Tyler Cunningham, who died as a result of a head injury.

Doyle said he had been dancing vigorously with the child in his arms at the time when he tripped over one of his tools, causing him to fall to the floor, on top of the child.

At the 1997 trial, two pathologists, including now-disgraced Dr. Charles Smith, rejected Doyle’s account and said the child more likely died from being shaken vigorously.

A jury found Doyle guilty. 

In 2013, Innocence Canada, a group that fights for the wrongfully accused, took on the case and helped with the appeal. Doyle’s legal team, which included James Lockyer of Toronto and Jereome Kennedy of St. John’s, gathered new expert witnesses — a forensic pathologist, a neuro-forensic pathologist and a bio-mechanical engineer. Together, they came up with new evidence that helped prove that the child’s injuries were more consistent with what Doyle had said happened.

“It was a horrible experience,” Doyle said.

Now that he’s acquitted, he said he’s relieved and excited. He said he wishes Tyler’s mother and her family the best.

“I miss Tyler very much … very much,” Doyle said.

NTV’s Rosie Mullaley will have more from Bernard Doyle later today on the NTV Evening News Hour.

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