A Winnipeg mother who suffocated her two-year-old daughter at a woman's shelter has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Nicole Redhead, now 29, pleaded guilty last year to manslaughter in the June 2009 death of Jaylene Sanderson-Redhead.

Nicole Redhead had worked in the sex trade and was addicted to crack cocaine, court was told during the sentencing hearing in March.


Jaylene Sanderson-Redhead was killed on June 29, 2009. Her mother has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. (Courtesy of family)

Her three children were taken from her by Manitoba Child and Family Services.

But in 2009, she regained custody of Jaylene from CFS as she entered an aboriginal women's shelter that offers parenting courses and other supports.

Not long afterwards, Redhead became violent with Jaylene and one night held her hand over the girl's mouth until she stopped breathing, court was told.

Justice Glenn Joyal gave Redhead credit for time served, leaving her with eight more years and eight months in prison.

Outside the courthouse, Sky Sanderson, the girl's grandmother, grieved.

"I loved her very dearly," she said of Jaylene. "God! All my family loved her."

An autopsy found a pattern of brutal abuse leading up to the toddler's death, court was told.

"Why did nobody came forward?" the grandmother asked. "If I was there [at the shelter] I would have kicked the door open to do everything I can."

'I loved her very dearly. God! All my family loved her.' — Sky Sanderson, grandmother of Jaylene

In delivering the sentence, Joyal described Redhead's life as "indescribably difficult." As a child, she saw her own mother murder her father.

She was then shunted around five foster homes and sexually assaulted before turning to drugs and working in the sex trade.

Calling the death of Jaylene "utterly senseless," Joyal spoke about how Redhead lived in the room with her dead daughter for a few hours before phoning her boyfriend, who was an inmate in the Headingley Correction Centre, just outside Winnipeg.

It was the boyfriend who alerted police after failing to persuade Redhead to call the authorities, Joyal said.