Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sentencing date set for woman charged with failing to provide the necessities of life

Shirley Guimond, 55, will find out her fate on May 12 for failing to provide the necessities of life in the death of her young nephew Gage.
On Wednesday afternoon the judge reserved her decision after hearing submissions. A final sentencing date will be set next month.
Guimond pleaded guilty in November 2009 to one charge of assault causing bodily harm involving two-year-old Gage -- her great-nephew -- and his three-year-old sister and was sentenced to time served for that offence.
Gage Guimond died in July 2007 after falling from a high chair and down a flight of stairs. Shirley Guimond was previously charged with manslaughter but later pleaded guilty to one count of failing to provide the necessities of life.
On Wednesday, the Crown asked for two years in jail, minus credit for six months served. The defence, however, asked for an 18-month conditional sentence.
Both lawyers agreed Guimond should serve an additional three years supervised probation.
Court heard both children had been in the custody of Sagkeeng Child and Family Services when they were placed in Guimond's care in June 2007. In the weeks prior to Gage's death, Guimond repeatedly assaulted both children.
In a statement to police, Guimond said she "was having trouble with the children acting up and would slap them, punch them about the body, and on at least one occasion, kicked them in the buttocks," Crown attorney Tony Kavanagh told court.
Defence lawyer Saul Simmonds said Guimond was overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for the two children as well as her 13-year-old grandson.
"It was clear at her age ... the stress of dealing with three children in the home caused her far more tension and stress than she was able to deal with," Simmonds said.

I wish this article had stated more mitigating factors and the defence lawyer's argument instead of simply the Crown. I completely agree with a conditional sentence for this woman. I do not think prison is necessary as she does not appear to be a danger to society or a high risk to re-offend. It was a mistake and I do not believe it was intentional.

A judge reserved a sentencing decision Wednesday afternoon for the death of two-year-old Gage Guimond in 2007.
Last November, Gage's great aunt, Shirley Guimond, pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to provide the necessities of life.
In July 2007, Gage died after falling down a flight of stairs at a home on Magnus Avenue. Gage was placed through Child and Family Services in the care of his great aunt at the time.
The defence came down hard on CFS at the hearing Wednesday.
"Why in the world is Shirley Guimond sitting alone in this box when in my view the system, CFS, has a greater sense of responsibility than Mrs. Guimond," said Saul Simmonds, defence lawyer.
Simmonds said CFS took Gage out of care from another foster family to place the boy with Shirley.
Gage's family agreed in part with some of the criticisms of CFS but said Shirley Guimond is ultimately responsible for the boy's death.
"She could have said no to CFS," said Natasha Guimond, Gage's biological mother.
Shirley offered a statement in court Wednesday.
"I'm sorry for (what) happened. I have to live with this for the rest of my life. I wish it never happened at all. That's all I have to say," said Shirley.
Victim impact statements were read out in court Wednesday from Gage's biological mother and former foster parents.
"I loved him as if he was my own. Now he is gone," said Gage's former foster father.
The maximum sentence in the case is five years. The Crown is asking for two years, less a day. The defence wants it served in the community. A new sentencing date has not yet been set.

System to blame in Guimond's death
Shirley Guimond shouldn’t be the only one sitting in the prisoner’s box awaiting sentencing in the death of her two-year-old great nephew Gage, a judge was told Wednesday.
“In my view, the system should be in this box with a greater deal of responsibility than Ms. Guimond,” said her lawyer Saul Simmonds.
Gage Guimond died in July 2007 after falling from a high chair and down a flight of stairs. Shirley Guimond was originally charged with manslaughter but pleaded guilty last November to failing to provide the necessities of life.
Court heard Gage and his three-year-old sister had been in the custody of Sagkeeng Child and Family Services before they were placed in Guimond’s care in June 2007. In the weeks prior to Gage’s death, Guimond — who was also caring for her 13-year-old grandson — repeatedly assaulted the two young children.
Guimond, 55, pleaded guilty in November to assault causing bodily harm and was sentenced to 68 days time served plus three years supervised probation.
Simmonds argued Sagkeeng CFS foisted the children on Guimond against her wishes.
“She was not out there asking to be a foster parent,” Simmonds said. “CFS came to her. Her position was she was clearly not prepared for that task.”
Guimond “reluctantly” agreed to care for the children but was asking CFS to take them back after two weeks, Simmonds said.
“Her personality is such that if you pressure her she will cave,” he said. “Unfortunately, you don’t go to the weak to take in a child under those circumstances.”
Simmonds alleged CFS removed the children from the home of loving foster parents and placed them in Guimond’s care for “political” reasons.
“This is not an isolated incident from their perspective,” he said.
Simmonds also fired criticism at local media which he accused of grossly misrepresenting the facts of the case.
“(Guimond) was treated in custody like a leper ... tormented and tortured,” he said.
Court heard on the day Gage was fatally injured, Guimond had been out shopping with the three children and needed to use the washroom when they got back home. She placed the boy in a backless high chair adjacent to the basement stairs and ran to the washroom. When Guimond returned, Gage had fallen down the stairs, critically injuring himself.
Guimond called 911 and Gage was rushed to hospital where he died several days later.
Crown attorney Tony Kavanagh described the boy’s death as “shocking and avoidable” and urged Judge Lee Ann Martin to sentence Guimond to two years in jail.
The maximum sentence for failing to provide the necessities of life is five years in prison. Simmonds argued Guimond should serve an 18-month conditional sentence in the community.
“This is not one of those cases that cries out for more custody in a facility,” he said. “This is a momentary lapse, not a lengthy one.”
Natasha Guimond, Gage’s mother, told court her son’s death has “scarred her forever.”
“How could I allow him to go?” she cried, reading from a victim impact statement. “It wasn’t supposed to be forever. It has been a rough road without my son.”
Martin reserved her sentence. A final sentencing date will be set next month.

Judge delays sentencing in 2 year old's death
A judge has reserved a sentencing decision in the death of two-year-old Gage Guimond who died in the care of his great-aunt.
Last November, Shirley Caroline Guimond pleaded guilty to assault cause bodily harm for injuries both Gage and his sister sustained from slapping and punching. She also pleaded guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life to Gage when he fell down a set of stairs in July 2007.
Then, a judge said Guimond would do no further time in jail for the assault charge, after giving her double credit for 68 days she'd already spent behind bars.
Now a judge will decide the sentence she'll do for the second charge. Crown attorney Tony Kavanagh told Provincial Court Judge Lee Ann Martin on Wednesday that Guimond should do two years less a day in provincial jail, minus about six months time served, for a crime that was "senseless, avoidable and sad."
"We can't ignore that this was an offence against a young boy who was incapable of looking after himself," Kavanagh told the court.
Defence lawyer Saul Simmonds said Guimond should be able to serve a two-year sentence under house arrest.
Both lawyers said Guimond should also be given three years of supervised probation.
Martin reserved her decision.
The mother of the two-year-boy said Wednesday she's against house arrest for the woman. Natasha Guimond said 55-year-old Shirley Guimond should do time behind bars.
Only six weeks after Sagkeeng Child and Family Services agency had placed Gage and his sister at a Magnus Avenue foster home with a great-aunt they'd never met, emergency responders found Gage with serious head injuries and struggling to breathe.
Court heard Shirley Guimond had placed the boy on a chair next to stairs while she used a bathroom, and the boy tumbled over a plywood guard rail to the bottom.
She was originally charged with manslaughter.
"She admitted she beat my kids, she's just not admitting for killing my son because how can anyone admit that?" said Natasha Guimond, who wept on the steps of the courthouse.
Natasha Guimond's children went into CFS when she was 19 years old and struggling to care for them.
They then were placed with foster parents before CFS removed them and placed them with Shirley Guimond.
Simmonds said his client contacted CFS to tell them she could not handle caring for the kids in addition to another teenager already in her home, but help didn't come.
"Why in the world is Ms. Guimond alone in this box?" Simmonds asked.
After Gage fell, Shirley Guimond called 911 and tried to revive the boy but he eventually died of his injuries.
"I just want to say I'm sorry for what happened," she told court Wednesday.

No more jail time for tot's death
Where is sympathy for Gage?
All the evil done to Gage and no-one pays the price
No retribution for Gage's death
CFS should shoulder blame for child's death

This is such a sad story, but I do not think that this death was intentional on Guimond's part. She struggled caring for the children. She also called 911 herself and tried to revive the child, which shows caring actions, not callous actions. This act was not intentional and therefore I feel she should receive a conditional sentence. She is not dangerous, violent or high risk and should not be placed in prison, where she could be negatively influenced. It was a simple mistake and could happen to anyone. She put the child in the chair next to stairs while she ran to the washroom. She couldn't foresee in the future, that he may fall and ultimately die. She does not deserve to be punished. To me, this isn't even a criminal act! It's a mistake which could happen to anybody.    

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