Babysitter sentenced to 6 years in death of infant in Ingersoll
The courthouse in Woodstock, Ont. is seen on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (Phil Molto / CTV Kitchener)
Melissa Garland, 43, will spend six years behind bars after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the death of five-month-old Brookelyn Hopkins.
Hopkins was rushed to hospital in August 2010 and died of her injuries a day later.
In November, defence lawyer Rhonda Fawcett said Garland had pleaded guilty to manslaughter in order to avoid a murder trial and that she was remorseful about what happened.
At the time, the court heard that Garland was at the top of a staircase in her Ingersoll townhouse holding Hopkins, when she lost her balance and as she tried to steady herself Hopkins fell out of her arms, down the stairs and onto the living room floor.
Garland has said Hopkins appeared okay.
After consoling Hopkins, court was told that Garland began to play ‘airplane’ with the infant and accidentally let go, sending her into either a wall along the staircase or a desk that was along the wall.
The case returned to a Woodstock courtroom Thursday, where Garland was sentenced to six years in prison, less credit for 57 days already served.
Fawcett calls it a “just and appropriate sentence,” noting that defence and the Crown had jointly suggested a sentence of six to eight years.
Clutching a brown teddy bear, Brookelyn’s mother Jessica Ryan listened attentively as the woman convicted of killing her infant daughter was sentenced.
“I don’t think any sentence will help the family deal with the loss of Brookelyn. It’s a tragedy,” she says.
Before the sentence was announced, she read a victim impact statement in court.
Through tears, she said that the night of her daughter’s funeral, she learned she was pregnant with another child – a boy who continues to remind her of the daughter she lost.
“Seeing my baby boy sleep reminds me of Brookelyn in the hospital,” she said.
With files from CTV Kitchener