Nova Scotia

Accused shook baby, mother testifies

Jane Gomes, the mother of a seven-week-old baby who died in 2009, testified Thursday about the violence against her daughter at the hands of the accused, Ashiqur Rahman.

Jane Gomes testifying at manslaughter trial of Ashiqur Rahman

Jane Gomes, the mother of a seven-week-old baby who died in 2009, testified Thursday about the violence against her daughter at the hands of the accused, Ashiqur Rahman.

Gomes is testifying as part of a plea deal. She has already been convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life.

She said the first time she became aware of Rahman mistreating their child was on June 29, 2009, while Gomes was out getting groceries. Rahman told her he slapped baby Aurora Breakthrough twice on her cheeks because the baby wouldn't stop crying.

"He said to me, 'She was crying and crying and I tried to stop her. She wouldn't stop so I slapped her,'" Gomes told the judge-only trial.

She said the baby did not seem hurt. The next day, during a visit with the nurse, she did not mention the slapping.

About a week later, Gomes testified the couple argued about the hospital bill they had received from Aurora's birth. The argument woke the baby up and Aurora started crying.

Gomes said Rahman cradled the baby for a little bit, attempting to soothe her. He said to Gomes, "You don't come around her."

She said Rahman pushed her, then slapped Aurora twice on her arms and part of her chest.

'Her head flipped back'

Gomes told the court that Rahman explained Aurora had to learn and that she was crying for nothing. Gomes said she tried to explain to him that the baby was too young to understand.

Gomes said the slaps were very fast and with so much force that Aurora’s body turned. When Gomes checked the baby's arms, she said she saw no bruises.

She said the baby cried even louder, but she was able to get the baby fed and back to sleep.

That afternoon Gomes said she began looking up help for single parents. She told Rahman she wanted to leave him and packed a bag.

Rahman told her she was being "too emotional" and he didn't mean to hurt the baby.

When Rahman asked her for another chance, she believed he was really sorry and she decided to stay.

Gomes told the court Rahman became angry again about their daughter's crying as the couple were changing her diaper on July 15, 2009.

Gomes said Rahman shouted at the infant to stop crying as he grabbed her by the hands and the feet and shook her three or four times.

"Ashiqur grabbed her two feet together and her hands together and shook three or four times and said, 'Stop, stop now,'" Gomes recounted in court, holding her clenched hands apart to demonstrate what she alleged happened.

"She was lying on the bed but her head flipped back, tilted back."

Accused had opportunities to hurt child: Crown

Rahman has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and aggravated assault in the July 2009 death of their seven-week-old girl, Aurora Breakthrough.

Defence lawyer Donald Murray asked if Gomes had ever seen Rahman squeeze the chest of the baby, and she replied she hadn't.

Gomes said it was rare for her to leave the child alone with Rahman in the baby's first month, other than when she went to the bathroom or went out to run quick errands.

Crown attorney Denise Smith said Rahman had opportunities to hurt the child when he was alone with the baby.

"The nature of the evidence that has been called and the nature of the allegations of the Crown are that they are both acts that were witnessed by Ms. Gomes, as well as opportunities when the accused was alone with the child that Ms. Gomes was not present for," Smith told reporters outside the courtroom.

Gomes' sentence for failing to provide the necessities of life was a conditional discharge and six months of probation.

The trial has previously heard a neuropathologist testify that Aurora suffered extensive brain injuries during the few weeks prior to her death.

She was admitted to hospital on July 23, 2009, and taken off life-support four days later.

With files from The Canadian Press