A Canadian couple failed to prevent the death of their son from meningitis after trying to treat him with home remedies rather than taking him to a doctor, a court has heard.
David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet Stephan, 35, are accused of failing to “provide the necessities of life” for their child Ezekiel.
Ezekiel was 19-months-old when he died in 2012.
The Canadian authorities say that Ezekiel was ill for two weeks. His parents are alleged to have given him home remedies as treatment in this time.
It was only when Ezekiel stopped breathing that they sought medical help, the court was told.
The court heard that Mrs Stephan had looked up Ezekiel’s symptoms online and gave him “as much natural product as possible,” Global News reports.
These home remedies include water with maple syrup, frozen berries and juice and a cocktail of apple cider vinegar, horse radish root, hot peppers, mashed onion and garlic and ginger root, CBCreports.
David Stephan said on Facebook this was a “complete misrepresentation,” but gave no further details.
The court also heard that on at least two occasions there were indications that Ezekiel was suffering from meningitis.
One was from midwife Terry Meynder, who visited Ezekiel and advised him to be taken to a doctor.
A recording was played to the court of Mrs Collet telling a police officer about this alleged event.
On another occasion, the couple visited a doctor of alternative medicine who did not examine Ezekiel but gave them a treatment for viral meningitis, according to Global News.
The couple told the court they did this as they had had poor experiences with the Canadian healthcare system.
The couple also run a ‘natural’ health supplements business called Truehope Nutritional Support, which sells a product named ‘EMPowerplus.’
The website says this product is “scientifically proven” to treat bipolar disorder and autism, among other conditions.
The court also heard that the couple used Empowerplus in an attempt to treat Ezekiel, which the Stephan family has denied on social media.
The Empowerplus supplement has faced legal difficulties in the past. In 2004, Health Canada attempted to stop its distribution by Truehope as a treatment for depression or bi-polar disorder.
However, the company won the case.
The Stephan family say that they have been “actively and maliciously attacked” and have posted extensively on social media about the case.
The couple have drawn a link between CBC, who reported the details of the natural remedies used, and the Canadian Crown, which brought the charges.
The family’s Facebook page places strong emphasis on donations for their court case, however many of their crowd-funding pages have been shut down.