Mother guilty of breaking toddler’s ankles
Two-year-old Edmonton girl finally taken to hospital by grandparents five days later
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.