SURREY — A Surrey mother who nearly starved her little boy to death because she was preoccupied with keeping her business afloat has been sentenced to a year in prison and two years probation.
Ironically, the scene of the crime was a restaurant the single mother, 25, owned elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. Her name cannot be revealed because there is a publication ban on any information that could identify her son, who was two years old at the time.
Surrey provincial court Judge Melissa Gillespie delivered the sentence Friday morning, after which the mother was handcuffed and a sheriff led her away
“The obligation of a parent to protect and nurture their children is one of the greatest and most important responsibilities a human being will have in their lifetime,” Gillespie noted.
“Young children are extremely vulnerable and they look to their parents to shield, protect and nourish them.”
Gillespie noted the boy was nearly starved despite being surrounded by food, which his mother was cooking “all day long.”
The court heard the boy had been kept in a back storage room in the restaurant for up to 20 hours a day. He is now in foster care.
His mom pleaded guilty to failing to provide him with the necessities of life.
“I’m sorry for it,” she told Gillespie during her sentencing hearing in April. “The experience has been terrible.
“I’m sorry it happened but I will make up for it.”
The court heard that prior to his being brought to hospital the boy was fed not more than 375 calories a day when an average healthy child his age consumes 950 to 1,000.
Gillespie found the mother’s negligence was not deliberate but that she chose to put her own interests first, rather than her child’s.
The Crown had argued for a prison term of 18 months to two years less a day followed by two years probation while the defence argued for a conditional sentence order, or house arrest, in that same range, or alternatively six months in jail.
Her lawyer Michael Shapray said the mother was overwhelmed and very distracted by her business. “There was nothing intentional about the infliction of harm in this case.
“She bit off more than she could chew,” he told the court during the sentencing hearing in April. “She couldn’t handle it.”
“She was very frightened the restaurant was going to fall apart.”
Shapray said his client “fell off the rails” but didn’t intentionally harm her son.