Lawyers seek 2-year jail sentence for woman who tried to kill son

A custody battle is what prompted an Island woman to mix crushed pills with honey and spoon feed it to her son, court documents reveal. At a sentencing hearing Wednesday, Crown and defence jointly recommended a two-year jail sentence after the agreed facts of the incident were entered into the court record.

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The woman has been in custody since the incident took place. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

A custody battle is what prompted an Island woman to mix crushed pills with honey and spoon-feed the mixture to her son, court documents reveal. The agreed facts of last summer's incident were read into the record at a sentencing hearing Wednesday in Charlottetown Supreme Court.

"This is one of the most difficult cases I've ever dealt with," Crown prosecutor Gerald Quinn told court. "It's hard to be objective when a little boy is put in jeopardy by his own mom."

The court heard the woman was in the midst of a custody battle. The woman attempted to kill her son, and then herself, fearing she would lose custody of the child, Quinn told the court Wednesday.

"She told investigators, 'I tried to kill my son because I loved him,'" Quinn told the court.

According to the agreed statement of facts, the woman crushed about 20 Ativan pills, an anti-anxiety medication, into honey and gave the boy two teaspoons of the mixture. Court heard she then swallowed a bottle of Tylenol 3s. When the boy began to show effects, the woman called 911 and confessed what she'd done, the court heard.

Crown and defence are jointly recommending a sentence of two years less a day in provincial jail, followed by three years of probation.

The woman has been in custody since the incident took place, and pleaded guilty to attempted murder after a mental-health assessment found her fit to stand trial. A charge of administering a noxious substance was stayed, following the guilty plea.

No prior criminal record

The woman, now 44, did not speak in court Wednesday. She wiped her eyes and sighed heavily at one point as the lawyers spoke. A half-dozen people sat behind her in the public gallery.

Crown and defence told the court the woman requires psychological counselling, and a long period of probation will help make sure she gets it, under supervision from the justice system. Canada sees dozens of cases of filicide each year, according to Quinn.

"Happily, both mother and son survived in this case," said Quinn.

The court heard the woman had no prior criminal record, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, due to psychological abuse and past sexual assaults.

A pre-sentence report on the woman, provided to the court, included letters of support for the woman from family, friends and community organizations.

The woman's name cannot be published, by court order, to protect her son.

Justice James Gormley is scheduled to hand down his sentence June 27.

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