Mother guilty of break­ing tod­dler’s an­kles

Two-year-old Ed­mon­ton girl fi­nally taken to hos­pi­tal by grand­par­ents five days later

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - JU­RIS GRANEY

An Ed­mon­ton mother who in­ten­tion­ally broke both an­kles of her two-year-old daugh­ter and failed to seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion has been found guilty of as­sault caus­ing bod­ily harm, ag­gra­vated as­sault and fail­ing to pro­vide the ne­ces­si­ties of life.

The woman, who can­not be named be­cause of a pub­li­ca­tion ban, was also found guilty of in­ten­tion­ally frac­tur­ing her daugh­ter’s left arm up to eight weeks prior.

Court of Queen’s Bench Jus­tice Wayne Renke found be­yond rea­son­able doubt the woman — who was 22 years old at the time — had ap­plied force to the child’s legs “suf­fi­cient to break both her an­kles.”

In a vo­lu­mi­nous writ­ten de­ci­sion pub­lished late last month, Renke con­cluded that the woman must have been aware of the ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain her child was in and must have been aware of the swelling and bruis­ing to her an­kles and yet she still failed to take her to a doc­tor or emer­gency room. The child was fi­nally taken to hos­pi­tal five days later.

The court doc­u­ments re­fer to the child only as A.B.

“(She) knew or should have known that by fail­ing to get med­i­cal at­ten­tion for A.B. she was not only pro­long­ing A.B.’s pain and mis­ery, she was putting her health and fu­ture mo­bil­ity at risk,” Renke wrote.

The mother’s “fail­ure to ob­tain med­i­cal at­ten­tion for A.B. was not sim­ply an er­ror of judg­ment, care­less­ness, or thought­less­ness,” Renke wrote.

“It was not sim­ply con­duct that failed to meet the stan­dard of a rea­son­ably pru­dent par­ent, but con­duct that fell so far short of meet­ing the stan­dard of the rea­son­ably pru­dent par­ent that it was morally blame­wor­thy, mer­it­ing crim­i­nal pun­ish­ment,” he wrote.

A trial be­gan last Septem­ber and lasted for 13 days. A writ­ten de­ci­sion was pub­lished late last month.

Dur­ing the trial, the mother said that she be­lieved the in­juries were from when A.B. fell off the toi­let seat onto the floor as she was ready­ing for a bath in March 2016.

The mother said she man­aged to pre­vent her daugh­ter’s head from hit­ting the floor but that her left foot hit a plas­tic garbage pail near the toi­let dur­ing the fall and that she landed “like a frog” and that “both an­kles hit the floor re­ally hard.”

Fol­low­ing the fall, which hap­pened on a Sun­day night, the mother said her daugh­ter screamed and cried for about 10 min­utes but that she thought it was be­cause she was scared and had a fright.

The next day the woman said she no­ticed that A.B. couldn’t walk and that her legs couldn’t bear weight. The lit­tle girl re­fused to walk and could only move around by crawl­ing with her feet in the air.

The woman’s part­ner tes­ti­fied that there was no bruis­ing or swelling and that the lit­tle girl was not cry­ing or scream­ing. He none­the­less en­cour­aged her to take the child to a doc­tor but she failed to do so.

Court heard that the mother re­peat­edly tried to force the lit­tle girl to stand but she couldn’t. The child was also suf­fer­ing from the flu, which the mother thought was mak­ing her weak and un­will­ing to walk.

On the fol­low­ing Fri­day, the woman was dress­ing her daugh­ter and put rub­ber boots on her but be­cause they were a bit snug she used “some force” and again failed to no­tice any swelling or bruis­ing.

She dropped the child off with her par­ents in a neigh­bour­ing city and ex­plained that she wasn’t walk­ing and that she didn’t know why. She never men­tioned the fall from the toi­let.

On the Satur­day the young girl’s grand­par­ents no­ticed that she was in pain and couldn’t move around. They also no­ticed swelling in the legs, which is when they took the girl to hos­pi­tal.

A doc­tor im­me­di­ately saw the

It would not be caused by a fall, un­less from a very sub­stan­tial height, as from a bal­cony.

bruis­ing and or­dered X-rays which showed two undis­placed frac­tures of the left an­kle and a bro­ken left tibia and fibu­lar.

The right an­kle was sim­i­larly bro­ken, how­ever ex­pert wit­nesses said it was caused “by more vi­o­lent force” than the left an­kle.

Those same ex­pert wit­nesses dis­counted the mother’s ex­pla­na­tion that the fall caused the in­juries and tes­ti­fied that the in­jury was sim­i­lar to what is ex­pe­ri­enced when a pedes­trian is hit by a car and that the type of in­juries suf­fered “would be al­most un­heard of in chil­dren of this age.”

“It would not be caused by a fall, un­less from a very sub­stan­tial height, as from a bal­cony,” one of the ex­perts tes­ti­fied.

The woman ad­mit­ted in early Fe­bru­ary to caus­ing the frac­tured arm by jerk­ing the child’s arm up­wards with “ag­gres­sive speed” to pull her away from juice that had spilled on the floor. She ad­mit­ted that she used “ex­ces­sive force.”

The same ex­perts how­ever said the frac­tures to her ra­dius and humerus were un­likely to have been caused “by a par­ent tug­ging or pulling on a child’s arm.”

“The frac­ture to the ra­dius was caused by a com­pres­sion force not a ten­sion force,” one ex­pert tes­ti­fied.

Renke said it was clear the fall from the toi­let did not break the girl’s an­kles and that the in­juries were “caused by in­ten­tional hu­man agency.”

A de­fence ex­pert ex­plored the pos­si­bil­ity that the child had a ge­netic bone dis­ease. How­ever Renke, based on the ev­i­dence, dis­re­garded that ar­gu­ment, say­ing that the in­juries were con­sis­tent with “some high en­ergy event.”

The woman has yet to be sen­tenced.

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