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Baby Snatcher Sentenced

June 19, 2008 permalink

After mother-of-two Brenda Batisse lost a third pregnancy, she wanted a replacement. On November 1, 2007 she went to Sudbury Regional Hospital, grabbed a newborn and took it home. A police search, assisted by public response to an Amber alert with surveillance photos, recovered the baby seven hours later in Kirkland Lake Ontario, 200 km away.

Yesterday the woman was sentenced to five years in jail, a sentence her lawyer is planning to appeal. What is the sentence when a social worker acting without cause snatches a baby?



Ont. baby snatcher sentenced to five years in prison

Brenda Batisse
CanWest News Service
Brenda Batisse, pictured on a Sudbury, Ont. hospital camera, pleaded guilty to child abduction for taking an hour-old baby girl from her mother’s hospital room last Nov 1.

SUDBURY, Ont. -- A woman who admitted to abducting a newborn child from a hospital here last November was sentenced on Wednesday to five years in prison.

Brenda Batisse, 29, pleaded guilty to abduction of a child under the age of 14 for taking an hour-old baby girl from her mother's hospital room last Nov 1. She had spent approximately 90 minutes on the maternity ward of the Sudbury Regional Hospital, entering several rooms and changing clothing three times.

Ontario Provincial Police located the baby seven hours later, at a Kirkland Lake residence -- about 200 kilometres north of Sudbury.

Batisse wept as Justice Robbie Gordon read his decision. After the judge left the courtroom, her friends and family gathered around her.

In his decision, Gordon said the conditional sentence of less than two years served in the community that defence counsel Berk Keaney was seeking, was not sufficient. This option would allow Batisse to continue healing from her abusive past, but Gordon said it wasn't a punishment or a deterrent to others.

At her age "she has seen more grief than anyone should," Gordon said. "If I had only to consider what's best for her, I'd have no difficulty."

During the sentencing hearing, the court heard that Batisse was physically and verbally abused by her mother, repeatedly sexually assaulted by her stepfather's brother and abused in two past relationships with men.

In August, 2007, Batisse lost a pregnancy after being assaulted but pretended to be pregnant to preserve her relationship with the baby's father. She said she eventually felt pressured to produce a baby.

Gordon said the sentence needed to reflect society's condemnation of an "offence that involves a defenceless child," adding that this crime also affects the hospital staff, the community, the baby's parents and the child, herself.

"Who's to say that the long-term affects on the parents will not affect her?"

At her sentencing hearing last week, Batisse apologized for her actions.

"I want to apologize, especially to the mother," Batisse said. "My intention was never to hurt anyone. I know what I did was wrong. But in my head that day, I wasn't that person. I don't know who I was. I just wanted my baby back."

On April 29, the baby's mother appeared in court -- at Batisse's first sentencing hearing -- and recalled the abduction.

"The woman asked me something and then she left, that was the first time," the mother said. "And that's why the second time when I saw her ... I believed she [was] from the hospital because I'd seen her before."

The mother said she suffers emotionally from the trauma of having her baby taken from her, finds it difficult to drive past the hospital or to let her children out of her sight.

Assistant Crown prosecutor Len Walker had asked for a seven-year term, but said after the sentencing that he was satisfied with the five-year sentence.

The defence, which had asked for a non-custodial conditional sentence of 18 months, followed by a three-year probationary period, plans to file an appeal.

"It will be our position that in an enlightened society a punitive sentence of supervised house arrest followed by probation would allow and encourage her rehabilitative efforts rather than undermine them," Keaney said.

Source: National Post