Girl sentenced to time served, two years probation for 2018 youngster abduction

The abduction resulted in an amber alert after the biological mother forced her way into the guardian’s residence and abducted the child

THUNDER BAY – A woman responsible for a child abduction that triggered an amber alert in 2018 pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to time served and two years probation.

The woman appeared before Justice Vince Scaramuzza in a Thunder Bay Courtroom on Friday where she pleaded guilty to charges of abduction in contravention of custody or parenting order, breaking and entering, assault, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000, and two counts of failing to attend court.

A publication ban was ordered by the court on any information that could identify the child.

According to an agreed statement of facts read into the court record, the incident took place just after 7 am on May 14, 2018 in Gorham Township when a resident in the area observed a car on the side of the road near the residence where the child was staying with temporary guardians.

The woman was lying down in the back seat of the car that was being driven by another female. The woman informed the resident that she was there to pick up her son.

The woman is the biological mother of the child who was placed in the care of temporary guardians by the Children’s Aid Society.

The resident called the guardians to advise that the child’s mother was in a car near where the child normally caught the school bus. The guardians decided to drive the child to school instead.

A short time later, another individual knocked on the door of the guardian’s residence and asked to come inside, saying he was cold and partying out all night. After the individual was invited in, the accused woman kicked open the door and confronted the guardians, asking the other individual for help, but he refused.

The woman and the guardians were shoving one another and the woman punched one of the guardians in the face. She was then able to get to where the child was and leave the residence, while the child cried, pleading with the woman to stop.

The guardians called the Ontario Provincial Police to report the incident and an amber alert was issued.

The child was then left with a friend of the woman who recognized the child from the amber alert and contacted police.

At approximately 12:30 pm the child was handed over to the police and the woman was arrested later in the afternoon just after 5 pm

The charge of possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 resulted from the woman attempting to pawn a ring that had been stolen following a break-in at a Machar Avenue residence that occurred in October 2019.

The woman also failed to appear in court on two separate occasions in June 2018 and again in January 2019 to answer the charges.

Crown attorney, Afton Brown, and defense counsel, Tyler Woods, presented a joint sentencing submission to Justice Scaramuzza.

According to Woods, the woman is of Aboriginal descent and was raised in an environment riddled with substance abuse. After the birth of her child, she became a stay-at-home mom and relied upon spousal and child support after her relationship with her partner broke down.

She developed a substance abuse problem and lost custody of the child.

When asked by the court if she had anything to say, the woman apologized for her actions.

Justice Scaramuzza told the woman that the charges against her are very serious, with the abduction charge carrying a maximum sentence of 14 years, while the break and enter charge can result in a life sentence.

“The court can order that you remain in custody for life,” he said. “I want you to think about that for a minute.”

Ultimately, Justice Scaramuzzo agreed with the joint submission presented to the court, noting the woman’s guilty pleas spared the child from having to experience further trauma during a trial.

“This was a traumatic event for your child,” Justice Scaramuzzo said. “Obviously you want to be involved in the life of your child, but you are not in a position to do that. There are proper means for getting involved and proper approvals that can be done so you can be involved in the life of your child.”

“The conduct you displayed in 2018 cannot be tolerated. It put the whole community on alert that a child was abducted. There was an amber alert. The child did not want to be with you.”

The woman was sentenced to time served having been credited with eight months of pre-sentence custody, enhanced at a rate of 1.5-to-one to 12 months.

She was also sentenced to two years probation where she will be required to seek counseling for substance abuse and parenting.

She is also to have no contact with the child or the guardian unless prior written consent is obtained.

The woman is also required to submit a DNA sample and is subject to a 10-year weapons ban.

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