Christine Allen, the Kitchener, Ont., woman accused of poisoning eight children and an adult, has been sentenced to six years in prison, including time already served, after pleading guilty to four counts of administering a noxious substance with intent to cause bodily harm.
Allen, who is in her early thirties, ran an unlicensed daycare from a home in the Pioneer Park area of Kitchener from 2009 to 2011, according to police.
She appeared in provincial court in Kitchener on Wednesday morning in a green sweat suit, and kept her head down during court proceedings. She was sentenced later in the afternoon. With time already served, she will spend four years and 11 months behind bars.
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"A guilty plea spares families from reliving what Ms. Allen has put them through," said Crown attorney Vlatko Karadzic.
According to Allen's lawyer, Craig Parry, she has bipolar disorder and used illicit drugs, and ran the daycare to help cover the costs of her substance use.
In an agreed statement of facts, Allen admitted to feeding four children tetrahydrozoline, a drug found in over-the-counter eyedrops that can cause serious illness if ingested. Two of the children were wards in her daycare, while two other children were family friends.
Police said the majority of the poisonings occurred between 2010 and 2013.
Allen poisoned baby 'numerous times'
Allen admitted to poisoning one child "numerous times" over the first four months of the girl's life. That child is now showing developmental challenges.
Allen was present at the birth of the baby girl, who was born in August 2012. According to the statement of facts presented to the court, shortly after the child was born, the girl's grandmother noticed she seemed to be having trouble breathing.
Additional cases of poisoning by Christine Allen
The two other children Allen admitted to poisoning were two boys, a six-year-old and a four-month-old.
In the case of the six-year-old, Family and Children’s Services in Waterloo Region alerted local police that the child had become seriously ill while attending Allen’s daycare in 2010.
The boy’s mother told police Allen contacted her stating the boy had become ill. The mother described his behaviour to police as if he was “drunk, falling and needing to be carried.”
A physician at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener said the boy’s heart rate had decreased and he had an “altered level of consciousness.”
In July 2013, the boy made a statement to police, describing cruel treatment by Allen. He told investigators Allen would put hot sauce and dish soap in his mouth, make him drink so much juice that he would vomit and make him stand for long periods of time holding heavy books.
As for the four-month-old boy, his mother contacted police in July 2013 to report she thought Allen had poisoned her son. The mother had allowed Allen to stay for one night at her home in Guelph.
During that time, police say Allen had the opportunity to be alone with the boy. In the evening, the boy became lethargic, drowsy and his heart rate dropped. Allen suggested he be taken to the hospital.
While the boy was in hospital his condition improved, but after a visit from Allen the boy relapsed for “no apparent reason.” He spent a total of six days in hospital.
The baby recovered, and baby and mother were discharged from hospital and returned to their home in Kitchener. Allen visited the home within 48 hours, and was alone with the baby while the mother took a shower. After the shower, the mother noticed the baby was lethargic and having trouble breathing, which resulted in her taking the baby back to the hospital.
Allen visited the family that same day and frequently held the baby while the mother slept. By the next day, the baby had to be intubated because she frequently stopped breathing. That same day, the baby was airlifted to London Health Sciences Centre, and stayed in the hospital from Aug. 14 to Sept. 10, 2012, before being transferred to Sick Kids hospital in Toronto. The baby would improve, but according to the statement of facts, her condition would worsen after Allen visited.
While the baby was at Sick Kids, Allen would stay with the family at Ronald McDonald house, and post videos on the internet, asking people to pray for the baby.
The girl was discharged once, then became ill again. She improved enough to be discharged on Nov. 6, 2012, but as a result of the poisonings, her brain had been without oxygen on "many occasions" and that has caused mental and physical developmental delays.
Second child poisoned in hospital
In March 2013, Allen was homeless and had been bouncing between friends and homeless shelters when she was taken in by a friend. The woman, who has three young children, "felt sorry" for Allen and let her live with the family for about a week and a half.
The woman's son became ill, and was admitted to hospital in a "very drowsy" state and with a decreased heart rate. A toxicity screening came back negative.
On March 22, Allen visited the boy in hospital and was alone with him. A nurse entered the room and saw Allen with the boy's IV line in her hand. Afterwards, the boy's symptoms returned for several hours, but he recovered and was discharged the next day.
Starting on March 24, the boy was admitted to hospital three more times in three days. The third time, the hospital contacted Family and Children's Service, which in turn contacted Waterloo Regional Police Service.
That set in motion an investigation leading to Allen's arrest.
The Crown was seeking a six-year prison term for Allen.