Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Mother accused of criminal negligence back in custody for breaching bail terms

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A Winnipeg mother whose two young kids were found injured, one seriously, after she allegedly abandoned them during a night of drinking is back in custody accused of breaching bail terms.

The woman, 26, is facing allegations of criminal negligence causing bodily harm to her children, a daughter aged two and a one-year-old son.

She was twice granted bail earlier this year but has now been returned to lockup on suspicion she was away from her home, drinking and breaking a court-ordered curfew last week.

The facts of the case have never been revealed publicly and Winnipeg police have never commented on her arrest or that of her ex-boyfriend, 31.

He faces aggravated assault and assault charges for allegedly attacking the children on Feb. 19.

According to the Crown, the couple were drinking together at a North End-area suite. The woman left the residence several times over the evening to go to another nearby apartment.

At one point, she saw her boyfriend locked out outside, meaning the kids had been left completely alone.

Instead of going to tend to them, however, prosecutors allege she elected to leave the building as well, get on a downtown-bound bus and not return for about an hour.

The woman came home to find her door open and apartment ransacked.

Her boyfriend came down a flight of stairs and began punching at her as she held her daughter. He then fled.

According to the Crown, the woman went upstairs to find her infant son face down on the floor in a pool of bloody vomit.

Both kids were swiftly taken to hospital.

The girl had suffered minor scrapes under an eye.

The boy, however, had a lacerated liver, a ruptured gall bladder and numerous abrasions, prosecutors said.

Children's Hospital officials contacted police and the kids were quickly apprehended by Child and Family Services.

Initially police treated the woman as a witness but information officers received led them to charge her with criminal negligence, child-abandonment and failing to provide the necessities of life, court heard.

The woman denies causing any physical harm to the kids but conceded to police she did leave them alone with the boyfriend whom she knew had been drinking, court heard.

"Whether she's the individual who caused the bodily harm, she's certainly culpable in the bodily harm happening to these children," the Crown said.

Prosecutors conceded the woman is a "vulnerable and at-risk individual."

She has a criminal past for robbery with violence and has long struggled with substance abuse problems.

She's already seen two other children apprehended and placed in foster care.

After her initial arrest she was swiftly granted bail.

She was returned to custody a few weeks later in March after she allegedly drank "copious amounts of vodka" at her mother's home and was found out after curfew, say prosecutors.

At a bail hearing following her re-arrest, provincial court Judge Sandra Chapman warned the woman to seek help for her drinking or risk winding up back behind bars while awaiting trial.

The woman fell into a depression after losing the kids, court heard.

"It's (because) I miss my babies," she told Chapman. "I'll do anything if I can just to get them back."

She pledged to Chapman she had taken steps to set up counselling and other supports for herself.

Chapman granted her another shot at freedom after a friend agreed to post a $1,000 cash bond.

Her ex-boyfriend remains in custody and has not yet requested a chance at bail.

At the time of his arrest he was already on charge for domestic assaults and uttering threats against the mother and was on probation.

The mother's case returns to court Wednesday.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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