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Mom still cries over newborn's abduction from Sudbury hospital

CBC April 29, 2008

A mother whose day-old baby was abducted from a northern Ontario hospital last fall says she is still devastated by the incident and can't even pass the hospital without crying.

The woman, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, testified Tuesday at the sentencing hearing for the woman convicted in the case, Brenda Batisse.

Batisse has pleaded guilty to abduction after snatching the baby girl from the maternity ward of a hospital in the city of Sudbury on Nov. 1, 2007.

News of the abduction quickly made headlines across the country when the police issued a nationwide Amber Alert. Seven hours later, investigators tracked down Batisse and the unharmed infant in Kirkland Lake, a town about 300 kilometres north of Sudbury.

The case led to a full-scale review of security at hospitals across northeastern Ontario.

In a Sudbury court on Tuesday, the infant's mother broke down several times as she described how Batisse, who was reportedly wearing hospital scrubs at the time, came into her room and tried to weigh the infant. Batisse then made off with the baby while the mother was in the washroom, the mother said.

"She insisted on taking the baby. Then she wanted to weigh my baby," the mother said. "She told me I was bleeding and I should go to the washroom."

Doesn't trust anyone with her child

The mother said she became distraught when she realized no one knew where the infant was.

A short time later police issued an Amber Alert, setting up roadblocks around the city and circulating Batisse's image to media outlets.

The infant's mother recalled how it seemed "like a movie" as she watched from her third-floor hospital window while people below searched through dumpsters and garbage cans for her child.

Even now, she said, she breaks down in tears when she drives by the Sudbury Regional Hospital.

"I always avoid the road, because I always cry because of the memories," she told the court.

She said she also has trouble sleeping and can't bring herself to get a babysitter because she doesn't trust anyone.

The abduction has driven both her and her husband to be overprotective of their children, she told the court.

In one of the few questions posed by defence lawyer Burke Kearney, he asked whether the mother had read an apology letter written by Batisse.

Batisse's letter was written late last November and submitted in court by her lawyer.

"There are not any words about how to tell you how sorry I am," it says. "My intentions were never to hurt anyone ... but just to make my family whole again."

The mother responded that she'd only read it in the newspaper.

Batisse's daughters testify

Batisse's two daughters - Isabella, 8, and Emily, 5 - testified in court about their mother.

"I know what my mom did was bad but everything that happened when she was little was bad ... but she's my mom and takes care of me," Isabella said.

Unconfirmed reports from police and family members suggested Batisse had been pregnant and lost the baby shortly before the abduction.

Batisse's sentencing hearing is set to continue at a later date, which Judge Robbie Gordon will announce on Friday.

With files from Jason Turnbull