Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Woman abandoned tot by road: Crown

Mom left child alone, slept off ecstasy high

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A Winnipeg mother left her toddler in a ditch by a busy roadside on a hot summer afternoon and then walked to a relative's home to sleep off a disorienting drug high, a Manitoba judge heard Monday.

The 23-year-old woman is now facing a potential nine-month jail stint for child-abandonment as well as significant hurdles in trying to reclaim her son from Child and Family Services.

Provincial court Judge Wanda Garreck will decide next week whether to keep the woman locked up or give in to her lawyer's argument three months of time already served is enough punishment for her alarming actions. She can't be identified to protect the identity of her son.

The woman was out walking with her three-year-old on the afternoon of July 6 when witnesses around Gateway and Springfield roads saw her wheel his stroller into a ditch near a church and walk away, court heard.

Witnesses quickly called 911 after seeing the woman leave the boy and walk into traffic.

Soon after, the tot managed to climb out of his stroller and was seen crawling around in the ditch on the 28 C, humid day as vehicles whizzed by not far away, Crown attorney Kathleen Tokaruk said. She described the event as "a dangerous, dangerous situation" that called for a jail term of between six and nine months.

Police ultimately tracked the mother to her father's home about half an hour later. She told officers she had no idea where her son was and had no concerns for his well-being, said Tokaruk, adding she was acting in an "erratic" manner and talking to herself.

She was arrested, held in custody and denied bail.

Her father told police she had been dropped off about a half-hour before they arrived. He got the impression from her the child was being cared for at another relative's home.

The mother had arranged for child care to go out with friends that day, defence lawyer Barry Sinder said. When she turned up "in a drugged-up state" to check on the boy, she was unexpectedly told to take him and leave and she did.

She had taken ecstasy that day in the boy's absence, Sinder said. The young woman has battled an OxyContin addiction in the past.

Her addiction issues stem from untreated childhood grief following the murder of her own mother as well as being victimized in a significant, apparently random, stabbing attack in 2009, said Sinder.

"This was a person who was unable to make a right decision that day for the child that she loves," said Sinder. "The more appropriate (concern) should be what can we do to help her, her child or her family."

CFS has set up programs for the mom. Her son remains in foster care with a relative under a temporary order of guardianship, Garreck was told.

"I'm remorseful for that to happen to my baby," said the mom when offered a chance to speak.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2013 B4

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