Fifteen-year-old Nick Lang was found dead in a closet with a shoelace around his neck just six days after being placed in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, says his father.
It was supposed to be temporary as the teen was getting help for a methamphetamine addiction. The ministry announced an independent review, but Global News has learned that review is being conducted by a former MCFD employee.
“The man that did the review was definitely a nice man but once that report leaves his hands, who knows what’s going to happen to it?” said father Peter Lang.
“Our concern is when it’s a former employee, they may be pressured to change their report in order to make them look better and perhaps make the parents look worse.”
The former government worker contracted out by the ministry is Stephen Howell, who now works as an instructor in the Criminal Justice Department at Victoria’s Camosun College. According to a freedom of information request, a person with the same name was awarded a $9,000 contract to do a “case review” on June 17, 2015, eight days after Lang died.
READ MORE: ‘I’m just telling Nick’s story’: Grieving father responds to letter from MCFD
In an email, Howell said he is “unable to comment on this matter. Please direct your questions to MCFD.”
“The family doesn’t believe they’re going to get justice in this case,” said B.C. NDP leader John Horgan. “The ministry should respond accordingly and find someone that is arm’s length from the government.”
A spokesperson said Minister Stephanie Cadieux was busy, so she couldn’t comment on camera. The only question the government would answer is that Howell was contracted to do an “external review.”
Lang’s father still has no idea when he’ll receive that report.
“We’ve always maintained from the beginning there needs to be a public inquiry, not just into my son’s death, but also into other children that have died in care. There seems to be an epidemic in this province.”
-With files from Rumina Daya