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Mother guilty of feeding cocaine to toddler
The Toronto Star, Peter Small Courts Bureau, April 02, 2009
A 26-year-old mother has been convicted of steadily giving her toddler cocaine over 14 months, finally administering a near-lethal dose that left him brain-damaged.
"It's difficult to see what would motivate her to give him cocaine, possibly to stop his crying, or to get him to sleep, or to control him. Was it to punish him or to get back at the father?" Justice Tamarin Dunnet said yesterday.
The Scarborough woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her son, also intentionally fractured a number of her son's ribs over time and failed to take him to hospital for a broken forearm, the judge said.
Cocaine levels discovered in the 2-year-old in testing at Hospital for Sick Children were so high that if he were an adult, he would be in the top 5 per cent of users, an expert testified.
Now aged 6 and living with his father and grandmother in Scarborough, the boy is happy but has permanent brain impairment, family members said outside court.
Yesterday Dunnet convicted the mother of assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault, failing to provide the necessities of life and administering a noxious substance.
In September 2004, the woman split up with the boy's father - then a drug dealer - and became the sole caregiver.
In early 2005, she limited the father's access, and he became concerned when he noticed the boy had an arm injury and black marks under his eyes, court heard.
In the early hours of Aug. 1, 2005, the mother took the boy to Scarborough General Hospital, claiming that he had an unexplained seizure.
But she had actually given him a cocaine overdose that night and delayed getting help until "she realized he was dying in front of her eyes," the judge said.
She phoned the father from the hospital and said she feared the boy might die from ingesting cocaine she claimed he likely had picked up somewhere in her Midland Ave. apartment building.
Yet she never told doctors about the cocaine - knowledge that would have helped them treat her boy, who was transferred in a coma to the Hospital for Sick Children.
Doctors had to cut open his skull to relieve the swelling.
When a doctor told the mother at 10 that morning that her son had cocaine in her system, she expressed surprise, Dunnet said.
A children's aid worker who accompanied the mother to the hospital heard her say she hoped her son would be okay "because he is so cute. He's bad but he's cute."
In a police interview she covered her face as if crying, but shed no tears; next minute she was laughing, the judge said. "She expressed no concern about the child."
After the judgment, the mother brushed past reporters without comment. She remains on bail, at least until her sentencing hearing on May 8.
Her lawyer, Terry Kirichenko, said she is disappointed.
The father, 26, now reformed and attending university, said it hurts to think what his son went through. "I wasn't able to protect him."
He said he believes that his former girlfriend is a psychopath, and that the only emotion she can express is anger.