McLellan wrongful death case goes to preliminary hearing

A London court will hold a preliminary hearing in the manslaughter case of Nathaniel McLellan from December this year.

15-month-old Parkhill boy collapsed at a daycare in Strathroy, Ont. on October 27, 2015 and died four days later. He had serious head injuries. Originally, police pursued the theory that his parents were to blame, but in June 2021 the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) arrested Meggin Van Hoof, 42, who ran the daycare from home. Van Hoof is facing a charge of wrongful death.

Yesterday, a London court heard that a three-day preliminary hearing on the case will be held from 5 December. Two more days have been scheduled on New Year’s, January 20 and 25, 2023. Pre-trial (to help expedite the hearing) will be held on October 12.

Preliminary hearings are presided over by a judge who must determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial. Van Hoof has pleaded not guilty and is represented by London-based lawyer Jenny Prosser.

Nathaniel’s death, his life, his family, and the police investigation were the inspiration for “Death in a Small Town,” a Toronto Star series that turned into an investigative podcast.

Van Hoof’s arrest came a week after the written series appeared on the Toronto Star. Since then, delays have plagued the case. Attorney Prosser told the court on several occasions that she was still awaiting the full release of the crown’s investigative summary, prepared by OPP detectives on the case. That disclosure was finally delivered earlier this year.

As with all court hearings in the past year, members of the McLellan family — Nathaniel’s parents Rose-Anne and Kent, and extended family members — were registered for the Zoom hearing.

“Our family is encouraged that a date has been set for a preliminary hearing in Nathaniel’s case,” Rose-Anne McLellan said in a statement after the hearing. “Based on what we heard in court today, we are optimistic that our quest for justice for our son Nathaniel will advance in the fall.”

Listen to the “Death in a Small Town” podcast here. The seven-part series is available, one episode a week, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, amazons, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. All seven episodes are available to Star subscribers.

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