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Man gets 6 1/2 years for killing baby

Garfield Sibblies, 40, admitted to taking out his frustration on infant, who suffered 38 injuries

Toronto Star, Bob Mitchell STAFF REPORTER, March 24, 2009

A son of an internationally acclaimed reggae singer will likely spend less than another six months in jail after being given a 6 1/2-year federal prison sentence yesterday for killing a child under his care.

Justice Bruce Durno sentenced Garfield Anthony Sibblies, 40, of Brampton, yesterday. But since Sibblies has spent the equivalent of almost six years in custody - based on the usual two-for-one credit inmates receive for pre-trial incarceration - he could be released after serving two-thirds of the remaining six months in a provincial jail.

Sibblies pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to manslaughter in the March 22, 2006, death of baby Elijah, who was six days short of his first birthday.

An autopsy revealed the boy had 38 injuries but could not determine a single cause of death. Elijah had brain injuries consistent with impact and shaking, but insufficient swelling of the brain to kill him, according to an agreed statement of facts read in the Brampton court.

Sibblies is a son of Canadian-Jamaican vocalist Leroy Sibbles, the lead singer and bass player with the The Heptones in the 1970s.

During the sentencing, Durno said "adults protect vulnerable and defenceless children, not abuse them." He described how the child's death devastated his mother, who buried him on what would have been his first birthday, in the clothes she had bought for him to wear for that day of celebration.

"She feels she has been given a life sentence," Durno said. He described her sorrow and pain, and the betrayal of Sibblies, to whom she was married - in name only - and had trusted. Sibblies regularly watched Elijah while she worked.

Elijah's mother took Sibblies' last name, but their marriage in 2005 was one of convenience, designed to help her and her son immigrate to Canada, court heard. Sibblies had a girlfriend and didn't intend to remain with the child's mother.

Yesterday, Durno ordered Sibblies to submit his DNA to the national data bank. Upon release, he will be on 36 months of probation, during which time he will be banned from being alone with children under 10. He must also take anger management and parental counselling.

Sibblies denied beating the child, but admitted he took out his anger and frustration with his own life on the infant that day. He slapped him on the side of his head when he refused to swallow his food and wouldn't sit still. Later, he shook him vigorously when he suddenly fell down and became unconscious.

He told a psychiatrist he felt trapped and frustrated because he could not move forward with his life with his girlfriend.

Last week, Sibblies apologized, telling the court there were no words to explain his remorse. Court heard he told a psychiatrist that he would never forgive himself.

Sibblies, who has three older children from two other relationships, was initially charged with second-degree murder on March 25, 2006, but pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The child had bruises and cuts inside and outside his mouth and on his nose as well as multiple abrasions to his scalp, face and torso. There were also abrasions in and around both ears and hemorrhages behind each ear. There was no evidence of long-term abuse.