Court proceedings involving a Dartmouth foster mother charged with injuring her two-year-old daughter were delayed again Thursday when the accused didn't show up for court.
Susan Elizabeth MacDonnell, 43, was first charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, as well as aggravated assault and failing to provide the necessities of life in June 2010.
MacDonnell waived her right to a preliminary hearing last spring and on Thursday when she didn't show up, the Crown insisted the court set a trial date.
"It's extremely frustrating from the Crown's perspective to continue to have this matter delayed at the request of Ms. Morris," said Crown prosecutor Catherine Cogswell, talking about MacDonnell's legal aid lawyer Jean Morris.
"This is a matter that is extremely serious. A young child — 22 months old — almost died," Cogswell told CBC News.
Other foster children in MacDonnell's household were also removed by the Department of Community Services.
Cogswell said it was expected that Morris and her client would enter a plea based on an agreed upon statement of facts. The two sides have been negotiating for weeks.
"I anticipated that Ms. MacDonnell would be here today, I anticipated there would be a change of plea and Ms. Morris informed us this morning that was not the case," Cogswell said.
Instead, on Thursday the defence requested more time based on a medical report Morris claimed to have only recently received.
The Crown said Morris had received the report a year ago. Morris admitted that to be true, then apologized to the court.
Cogswell argued Thursday that while terms of the facts are close to being resolved, MacDonnell's charges are too serious for further delay.
"She adopted a special needs child and as a result of her care of that child in terms of manipulation and withholding the feeding tube from this child, the child almost died," Cogswell said.
"Were it not for the intervention of medical services and suspicion of medical services, then that child likely would have had much more serious consequences."
Those allegations have not yet been tested in court.
MacDonnell remains free on bail and Cogswell said the little girl is doing well with her new family.
The next court date is in two weeks time, and two weeks have been set aside at the end of January if there's no resolution.