Mother accused of child abandonment set to testify

A Saint John mother accused of leaving her infant alone outside in freezing temperatures last winter is scheduled to testify in her own defence on Thursday.

Caleigh Shea, 27, accused of leaving infant alone outside in freezing temperatures

The trial of a Saint John mother accused of leaving her infant alone outside in freezing temperatures last winter isscheduled to continue on Thursday, with the woman testifying in her own defence.

Caleigh Shea, a 27-year-old mother of four, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of child abandonment.

The alleged incident involved her five-month-old girl being left in her car seat, outside their uptown home on Paddock Street on Jan. 21, when the temperature felt like -15 Celsius, with the wind chill.

Defence lawyer Brian Munro has said he's confident Shea will be vindicated once the facts are known.

He told the provincial courtroom on Wednesday that Shea had set her baby down outside her apartment after shopping for groceries, just long enough to help her other two young children undress.

The Crown, however, alleges the infant was left for 15 to 20 minutes.

She was fully clothed and had a blanket around her at the time, police have said.

Shea's neighbour, Norma Cusack, testified she had just arrived home in her car at about 5:45 p.m. when she heard the faint cries of a baby.

She decided to investigate and, after a few minutes, located an infant in a car seat on an icy driveway nearby, she said.

Cusack called police and instructed her adult daughter to pick up the infant, the courtroom heard.

"Her face was really red and cold," said Cusack.

About nine minutes elapsed before officers arrived, she said.

Shea previously publicly stated she had just come home from the grocery store with three children under the age of three, when she set the infant down in her car seat outside her front door for a moment while she took the one-year-old and three-year-old inside and unzipped their jackets. When she came back outside, her baby was gone, she has said.

Police have said a neighbour heard a baby crying at about 6 p.m. and found the infant on the sidewalk unattended.

Unlawfully abandoning or exposing a child under the age of 10, so that the child is likely to be endangered or permanently injured, carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.