Nova Scotia

Sentencing set for tampering with feeding tube

A judge has set a date for sentencing, in the case of a woman who tampered with the feeding tube for her seriously ill foster daughter.

A judge has set dates for sentencing, in the case of a woman who tampered with the feeding tube for her seriously ill foster daughter.

Susan MacDonnell pleaded guilty in November to aggravated assault and failing to provide the necessities of life, for endangering the girl's life.

Justice Kevin Coady said MacDonnell's actions were so out of character that he needs a full psychiatric report before deciding on a sentence. The sentencing hearing will begin Sept. 24.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Cogswell said it's an unusual step.

"It isn't very often that you can call character evidence, period. Let alone at the sentencing phase," she said. 

"The judge is saying this is completely out of character, this is a woman with a wonderful reputation."

The court hired psychiatrist Brad Kelln to prepare the report, which is due at the end of July.

Cogswell said she will provide a more complete picture of MacDonnell's character by presenting evidence that MacDonnell stole from a foster parents program.

"When confronted about stealing it, she essentially lied to Department of Community Services and said that she had cancer, her father had cancer and something else of that nature," said Cogswell.

"It turned out to be false, that she just used the extra money for some extra household expenses, that she had made that story up."

The Crown is asking for a five-year-sentence, while the defence has requested two years plus probation.

MacDonnell was in the courthouse, but didn't enter the courtroom for the hearing.

The Dartmouth woman was first charged in June 2010 with criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Two charges were added after staff at the IWK Health Centre suspected wrongdoing when the child was slow to recover.

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