Ela Filipovic was a healthy 19-month old girl when her mother, Borislava Filipovic plunged a needle filled with insulin into the baby’s thigh nine times.
The insulin caused Ela’s blood sugar to drop to a devastatingly low level and the little girl became unconscious. On June 12, 2019, when a family friend went to check on Ela, her mother and grandmother at the family’s Etobicoke apartment, the damage was already done.
Ela, her mother Borislava and the little girl’s grandmother Ivanka were all unconscious and first responders found a suicide note.
Her mother, a nurse at Trillium hospital, desperate to keep her ex-husband from their child, spoke in the note about how the system failed her.
She was distraught a family court had just granted limited access to Ela’s father, Adam. It would be the first time he would see their child in 16 months.
In late June, a jury found Borislava Filipovic guilty of attempted murder of both Ela and her mother Ivanka, and the aggravated assault of Ela after just eight hours of deliberations. But they acquitted Borislava of the aggravated assault of Ivanka, suggesting the jury did not believe that Borislava acted alone.
In court Tuesday, during a sentencing hearing for the now 36-year-old Trillium Hospital nurse, the Crown played an eight-minute video showing Ela, who is now nearly five.
The bright-eyed child uses a wheelchair, is blind, depends on a feeding tube and is non-verbal. A doctor who treats Ela testified that she will likely be dependent all her life and spoke about the severe cerebral palsy, seizures and frequent vomiting from which she suffers.
The goal of Ela’s treatment simply to “improve the quality of her life.”
Ela’s father, Adam, gave two victim impact statements including one he wrote on behalf of his child. “As a result of my injury, I’ve lost my freedom. I’m unable to have friends. I can only go to school part-time. Because of my lack of ability to communicate, I feel sad.”
The Crown presented evidence during trial that the five pens of insulin found in the apartment that day came from Trillium Hospital where Borislava worked as a nurse. Assistant Crown attorney Andrea MacGillvray told the jury in her closing address that Borislava’s motive to kill Ela was to take back control.
“An order for very reasonable supervised access had been made. The date loomed. Adam would be seeing Ela. She would not let that happen. She made a terrible decision to take back control,” MacGillvray explained.
“Borislava couldn’t live with what she had done. Neither could her most staunch supporter: her mother. She injected herself and her mother. They laid down on her bed together. They expected to never wake up again.”
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The Crown is asking for a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years, saying that Borislava’s actions were not impulsive. “She got the insulin. She wrote the note,” said assistant crown prosecutor Alice Bradstreet.
“A young life has been shattered. That she did not die was medical intervention. She (Ela) has endured unimaginable pain and torture at the hands of her own mother.”
Defence is suggesting the first-time offender would be better suited to 12 years in prison less time served.
Outside court, Adam said he is no longer angry but hopes the judge sees the damage his ex-wife has done and delivers the right sentence. “My feelings are more towards my daughter and it’s a lot of sadness. I wish I could see her walk and talk. It’s just a bad dream.”
Justice Sean Dunphy will deliver his oral sentence on Wednesday.