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Calgary father shocked after dayhome operator convicted in death of his toddler gets full parole

Ceira Lynn McGrath, 18 months, died on Nov. 12, 2015.
Ceira Lynn McGrath, 18 months, died on Nov. 12, 2015. CREDIT: Facebook

A 60-year-old Calgary dayhome operator has been granted full parole after serving more than a year in prison for the death of an 18-month-old toddler.

Elmarie Simons was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison last May for criminal negligence causing the 2015 death of Ceira McGrath, who was in her care at the time.

Elmarie Simons.
Elmarie Simons. Global News/File

Ceira’s father, Ryan, said Monday that he and his family were shocked and disappointed to learn of the decision to grant Simons full parole.

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“I’m just so in shock that she got off so easy for such a horrible crime,” Ryan said. “It’s all been a slap in the face to us.

“Our daughter’s entire life is gone.”

According to an agreed statement of facts, on Nov. 12, 2015, Simons put McGrath in a car seat and left her in a closet for more than five hours as she left the home to go to Wal-Mart and McDonald’s.

The girl died from asphyxiation caused by the car seat strap.

According to the Parole Board of Canada, Simons was granted full parole but with conditions on Sept. 6.

The board said it was “satisfied” that her risk has been “managed well on day parole” and that it believes Simons is ready to “proceed on a broader form of release.”

Simons is not allowed to have any child under the age of 12 in her care, unless she is supervised by an adult who is aware of her history and unless being given the responsibility for a child’s care is approved by her parole supervisor.

READ MORE: Calgary father outraged after dayhome operator responsible for daughter’s death granted day parole

Simons is also banned from having any direct or indirect contact with the victim’s family. She must also follow a treatment program that includes counselling arranged by her parole supervisor.

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According to the decision, the board said it believes Simons “will not present an undue risk to society if released on full parole.”

“[Simons’] release will contribute to the protection of society by facilitating [her] reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen,” the decision read.

WATCH BELOW: (From Feb. 7, 2019) A Calgary father is shocked and angry after learning the dayhome operator found responsible for his toddler’s death has been granted day parole. Nancy Hixt explains.

Click to play video 'Calgary father outraged after dayhome operator responsible for daughter’s death gets day parole' Calgary father outraged after dayhome operator responsible for daughter’s death gets day parole
Calgary father outraged after dayhome operator responsible for daughter’s death gets day parole – Feb 7, 2019

Simons had previously said that at the time of the offence, she was not thinking clearly and was dealing with the ongoing stress of caring for her spouse, who has since passed away, the decision said.

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READ MORE: Calgary dayhome operator sentenced to 3.5 years in prison in death of toddler

The board previously said it was concerned Simons did not fully comprehend that her actions showed, in the words of the court, “a wanton and reckless disregard for [Simons’] duty to care for [the victim].”

Since that time, the board said Simons has apologized to the victim’s family, pleaded guilty to the crime and accepted that her actions caused the death of the victim.

Ryan said he and members of his family have tried to move forward with their lives but that the journey has been difficult. He said the criminal justice system has failed them.

“We feel incredibly let down by the entire process and system, aside from the great work by the detectives,” he said.

“Our son is so lonely and still asks about her (Ceira),” he said. “It’s destroyed our lives.

–With files from Global News’ Nancy Hixt

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