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Mother of child found ‘severely malnourished’ sentenced to time served

The accused woman pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life after her child with special needs was found dehydrated and severely malnourished

THUNDER BAY — The mother of a special needs child who was found severely dehydrated and malnourished pleaded guilty to charges and was sentenced to time served.

The accused, who is not being named to protect the identity of the child, appeared before Justice Jennifer Hoshizaki via video from the Kenora District Jail where she pleaded guilty to one count of failing to provide the necessities of life and one count of failing to comply with a release order.

The court heard that between March 2017 and November 2017, Dilico Anishinabek Family Care in Thunder Bay received several anonymous tips regarding the condition of the children of the accused.  

A home check was conducted by Dilico in October and a child with special needs was found dehydrated and severely malnourished. The child was transported to hospital for medical treatment.

The child is now a ward of the Crown.

According to defense counsel for the accused, she has no previous criminal record and was raised mostly through Dilico housing.

A Gladue report detailed intergenerational trauma experienced by the accused resulting from the residential school system. She was also subject to violent domestic abuse for several years and grief from having previously lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome.

The accused turned to substances to cope with the trauma she had experienced in her life. A birth alert was also placed on her by Dilico, which she said traumatized her because of her own experiences in care.

A joint submission between the Crown and defense was presented to the court calling for a time served sentence accounting for 200 enhanced days of pre-sentence custody.

“This is a very serious conviction before the court. Children are to be protected, certainly by the court. You have a duty as a parent to protect the child. He was a special needs child, which is also an aggravating factor,” Hoshizaki said.

“You also were a child once and there was an obligation to protect you, which obviously didn’t happen, and I’m sorry for that, because our system obviously failed. The reality is you have a very bad, and very challenging Gladue factors in your background.”

The accused will be subject to three years probation with conditions that she continue counselling and treatment programs to address her addiction and trauma issues.

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