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Toronto Sun

Mom's death dance

Toronto Sun, By SAM PAZZANO, COURTS BUREAU, Wed, September 29, 2004

SINGLE MOM Clara DaSilva admitted yesterday she danced the night away while her 2-year-daughter was dying of dehydration in a sweltering apartment. Tiny toddler Adrianna Maria DaSilva was abandoned for at least 33 hours in a 35C room before her mom discovered her dead on Sept. 9, 2002.

Clara DaSilva, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Justice David Watt will sentence her shortly after Jan. 17 following a five-day trial with one contested fact -- the allegation that her purse, with keys and cash, was stolen at a club the day of her child's death.

Crown attorney David Wright outlined the facts behind the disturbing death of a toddler, exposing an irresponsible young mother who was drawn to salsa dancing while shirking her responsibilities to her 25-month-old child.

While Wright read the shocking details into court, Adrianna's father, Mark Yetman, wept while holding a portrait of his "little angel."

"I thought she was an excellent mom, but I guess that was all a lie. She killed our baby. I hope all these horrible memories will haunt her for the rest of her life," said Yetman, who split up with DaSilva a year earlier.

The 27-year-old roofer last saw his child two or three weeks before her death.

DaSilva lied to homicide detectives that she'd hired a 16-year-old babysitter named "Kelly," claiming she paid her $50 in advance and supplied ample food.

Court heard DaSilva owed her landlord and babysitter money and was being pursued by collection agencies. But instead of tightening her belt, she spent the last three nights of her child's life dancing, paying cover charges and taking $20-$25 taxi rides home.

She earned more than $20 an hour and worked four 10-hour shifts a week at her job.

As she usually did, DaSilva went salsa dancing at the Latino Club on Friday and Saturday night and attended "Salsa Night" at the Left Bank on Sunday.

On all three nights, Adrianna was left alone at her Biggin Ct. apartment. Court heard the child was unattended for 7 1/2 hours on Friday, 4 1/2 hours on Saturday and from 8:30 a.m. on Sunday when her mom left for work until she returned 33 hours later.

While her mom danced and socialized, Adrianna was suffering from the withering heat in a non-air conditioned unit in the Victoria Park-Eglinton Ave. area. The apartment reeked of vomit and cat urine.

An autopsy revealed Adrianna had "severe diaper rash akin to second-degree burns."

Her regular babysitter, Erlinda Gayares, "noticed the severe diaper rash that the child suffered after four or five days at home." Wright said Gayares warned her mom that "Adrianna was not eating enough and that she was too skinny."

DaSilva said she would take Adrianna to a doctor but did so only once, on March 1, 2002.

Adrianna also missed her two-year immunization shots and was never taken for physiotherapy, although it was recommended for her.

Just before closing time on Monday, Sept. 9, DaSilva claimed her purse had been stolen at The Left Bank and reported it to the emergency operator, although she didn't give her name, location or any details regarding her identity, court heard.

DaSilva told her two male friends that she couldn't get into her home because she didn't have her keys. The trio went for pizza, then watched the movie Speed at an Etobicoke home.

Sometime during Monday, DaSilva used her bank card to withdraw $60. She phoned work to say she wouldn't be coming in and then arrived home, where the building superintendent let her inside at 4:45 p.m.


The super said DaSilva did not immediately go into the child's room. Instead she went to a Money Mart before returning to her apartment. After discovering her dead toddler, she called 911 from a neighbour's unit at 6:09 p.m. DaSilva had no home phone.

Court heard that DaSilva changed out of her dancing clothes, hung them up and put on a pair of track pants before an emergency crew arrived at her home.