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Lethbridge mother pleads guilty in infant abuse case

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Lethbridge mother pleads guilty in infant abuse case
The mother of an infant pleaded guilty to one count of failing to provide the necessaries of life in Lethbridge court on Friday. The six-week-old girl, who had to be hospitalized, was discovered in medical distress by Lethbridge police after a welfare check in January. Quinn Campbell reports. WARNING: Details are disturbing – Jun 16, 2023

WARNING: This article contains disturbing details. 

The mother of a seven-month-old baby girl pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life to her young child that was just six weeks old at the time.

Court heard an Agreed Statement of Facts (ASF) on Friday, detailing what lead up to the parents’ arrest.

The mother cannot be identified due to a publication ban protecting the identity of the child.

The statement outlined that the baby was born in early December without complications and was healthy.

Lethbridge Police Service was called Jan. 18 to do a welfare check. Court heard that check was initiated by a roommate of the parents who notified his caseworker he thought the baby was being assaulted by her father.

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Officers noticed the baby was in medical distress and called EMS. The six-week-old infant was having trouble breathing, her hand was twitching, had a fixed gaze and an abrasion on her nose, the statement said.

On route to the hospital in Lethbridge, her condition rapidly declined, causing a seizure.

Once at the hospital, a significant brain bleed was discovered and she was airlifted to the children’s hospital in Calgary, according to the agreed statement of facts.

Doctors determined she had head trauma caused by blunt force or shaking, and a brain injury. Her injuries were so severe doctors did not know if she would survive.

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The agreed statement of acts also said doctors found her spinal ligaments were severely injured, with bleeding around her spinal cord, and recovery of those injuries is uncertain. Doctors reported that the cause of this injury would have required more force than a car accident.

The baby also suffered hemorrhages in her eyes, with the retina in her left eye being detached and torn near the optic nerve. Doctors are uncertain if she will be able to see out of her left eye.

She required a very high level of anti-seizure medication in hospital.

 

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The agreed statement of facts also stated that during a police interview with the mother, she told police that the roommate had told her he was concerned about the father assaulting the baby and that she should call police or he would.

The mother detailed how she saw the father get frustrated with the baby crying and he would attempt to shake her out of it but it would make her more upset.

She also said she saw the father put a bottle in the child’s mouth and shake it around, court heard.

On Jan. 18 the mother said she noticed something was wrong with the baby and wanted  to take her to the hospital, but the father wanted to wait and see if she would get better on her own. The mother said she was planning to take the child in that evening, but police were called before that happened, the agreed statement of facts outlined.

The mother told police that only her, the father and the roommate had access to the child and at times, the father was left alone with her.

She said she had wished she would have taken the child to the doctor sooner but didn’t because she was afraid child protective services would be called and her baby taken away, according to court documents.

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The baby was discharged from hospital in April, but remains under medical care. Her prognosis remains uncertain and doctors say it’s possible she will live with cerebral palsy as a result of her brain injuries.

A pre-sentence report has been ordered and the mother will be back in court Aug. 18 for sentencing.

The father faces four charges, including aggravated assault and sexual assault, and is set to appear in court next week.

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