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No Evidence Yet
October 15, 2009 permalink
Immigrant parents Ashiqur Rahman and Jane Elizabeth Gomes have been in a Nova Scotia jail since August 24, three days before their infant daughter Aurora Breakthrough died. Prosecutors are delaying the case, hoping to get evidence from a still unfinished autopsy.
More delays in case of Halifax couple charged in baby girl's death
By STEVE BRUCE Court Reporter
A Halifax couple accused of assaulting their infant daughter, who died later in hospital, have had their case adjourned again.
Ashiqur Rahman and Jane Elizabeth Gomes, both 23, made a brief appearance today in Halifax provincial court. Both are charged with aggravated assault.
Legal aid lawyer Peter Mancini, who is representing Ms. Gomes, asked that the couple's election and plea be adjourned until Nov. 16.
Mr. Rahman and Ms. Gomes were arrested July 24 and charged with aggravated assault after staff at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax reported a serious case of child abuse.
Paramedics had gone to the couple's Gottingen Street apartment the night before in response to a call about a seven-week-old baby.
The infant, Aurora Breakthrough, died July 27.
The charges against the couple - former Acadia University computer science students originally from Bangladesh - could be upgraded, but the Crown is still waiting for the autopsy report.
They remain in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth.
Mr. Mancini said his client is holding up as well as can be expected.
“It's a frustrating process because it takes so long,” the lawyer said outside court. “But she's coping well.”
The Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission has arranged to have Dartmouth lawyer Don Murray represent Mr. Rahman.
Source: Halifax Herald
Addendum: Still no evidence in November. While the mother may get bail next month, the father's student visa has expired and he cannot be released, even if granted bail.
Last updated at 10:53 PM on 16/11/09
N.S. mother charged with assault of baby, who later died, to seek bail print this article
THE CANADIAN PRESS
HALIFAX — A young mother charged with the aggravated assault of her now-dead infant wants to apply for bail.
Jane Elizabeth Gomes and her partner Ashiqur Rahman, both 23, were arrested on July 24, a day after paramedics rushed to the couple’s apartment in response to a call about their seven-month-old daughter.
Rahman is also charged with aggravated assault of the baby, who died on July 27.
Both Gomes and Rahman were in Halifax provincial court on Monday, but their case was adjourned to Dec. 14 because the Crown and defence are still awaiting an autopsy report.
Gomes’ lawyer, Peter Mancini, requested that time be scheduled on Dec. 14 for Gomes to have a bail hearing.
Charges against the couple, former Acadia University computer science students originally from Bangladesh, could be changed, depending on the results from the autopsy report expected later this month.
Outside of court, Rahman’s lawyer, Don Murray, explained that there is little point of trying to get his client out of jail. Rahman was in the country on a now-expired student visa.
Even if a court could be persuaded to release Rahman, Canada Border Services would just pick him up and put him back into detention, Murray said.
Source: The News (Pictou County)
Addendum: The parents have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors are still waiting for the medical examiner's report.
Couple charged in infant's death plead not guilty
MONIQUE MUISE, METRO HALIFAX, December 15, 2009 12:35 a.m.
The young Halifax couple accused of seriously injuring their newborn baby pleaded not guilty to charges in a Halifax provincial courtroom yesterday.
After an endless string of legal delays, Ashiqur Rahman and Jane Gomes, both 23, entered their pleas and were ordered to return to court on Dec. 22 to set a date for trial. Gomes had also been scheduled for a bail hearing, but it was put off until her next appearance.
The couple, originally from Bangladesh and staying in Canada on student visas, sat nearly motionless on the defendant’s bench and displayed little outward emotion during their brief, joint appearance.
Both were arrested and charged with aggravated assault after their seven-week-old baby girl, Aurora Breakthough, died on July 27. The child had been admitted to the IWK Health Centre four days earlier after her parents called 9-1-1 from their apartment on Gottingen St. to report that she had been seriously injured.
According to Crown prosecutor Denise Smith, a medical examiner’s report on the cause of death is expected soon, and it is likely the charges against Rahman and Gomes could be upgraded depending on the results. Smith said if the charges do change, the couple will be tried separately.
Since the case first came before the courts, defence lawyers have repeatedly asked for more time to look over the evidence – resulting in six separate court dates since July.
For now, both Rahman and Gomes will remain in custody at the Burnside jail, where they are forbidden from having any contact with each other.
Source: Metro News
Addendum: More delays.
Baby assault case pushed back again
MONIQUE MUISE, METRO HALIFAX, January 21, 2010 12:00 a.m.
The court case of a young Halifax couple accused of seriously injuring their infant daughter has been delayed yet again.
Jane Gomes and Ashiqur Rahman were originally scheduled to appear in Halifax provincial court yesterday morning for a pre-trial conference, but their defence attorneys asked that it be postponed until Jan. 27.
Gomes and Rahman, both originally from Bangladesh, were arrested in Halifax July 23 after their seven-week-old daughter, Aurora Breakthrough, was sent to the IWK Health Centre with serious injuries. She died four days later.
Her parents are each facing one count of aggravated assault.
The case has been postponed several times. A medical examiner’s report was scheduled to be completed earlier this month, and Crown prosecutor Denise Smith has maintained throughout the proceedings that the charges against the couple could change based on the examiner’s findings.
If the charges are upgraded, the couple will most likely be tried separately.
Source: Metro News
Addendum: Finally, at least a charge.
Couple appears in court in baby death
A Halifax couple charged with manslaughter in the death of their seven-week-old daughter will face preliminary inquiries in April.
Jane Gomes, 23, and Ashiqur Rahman, 24, appeared in Halifax provincial court on Wednesday, where their lawyers said the parents have elected to be tried in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
Rahman will appear in court on April 19 and Gomes will appear on April 26. The preliminary inquiries on those dates will be used to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial in Supreme Court.
Outside court, Rahman's lawyer Don Murray said his client will "vigorously contest" the charges.
They were charged in July with aggravated assault in the death of their daughter, Aurora Breakthrough. They have both pleaded not guilty to those charges.
On Tuesday, Halifax Regional Police laid additional charges of manslaughter.
Gomes is charged with two counts of manslaughter in the infant's death, one for failing to provide the necessities of life and the other for criminal negligence resulting in the death of the baby.
Rahman is charged with one count of manslaughter.
The couple was arrested July 24 after staff at the IWK Health Centre — where the baby was transported with serious injuries — reported a suspected case of child abuse. The infant died on July 27.
With files from The Canadian Press
Addendum: Mother Jane Elizabeth Gomes has been released from jail so she can testify against her husband.
Mom pleads guilty to lesser charge in baby death
Gomes admits failing to provide necessities of life, will testify against former partner
A Bangladeshi woman originally charged with two counts of manslaughter in her infant daughter's death has worked out a plea bargain with the Crown.
Jane Elizabeth Gomes, 23, pleaded guilty this afternoon in Halifax provincial court to a less serious charge of failing to provide the necessities of life for her daughter, Aurora Breakthrough.
In exchange, she will testify against her former partner, Ashiqur Rahman, if he goes to trial on a charge of manslaughter.
Aurora died at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax last July 27, four days after paramedics took her to the hospital in critical condition. She was seven weeks old.
Gomes had elected to be tried by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge and jury on the two manslaughter charges. The Crown was alleging that she committed manslaughter in one of two ways – either by failing to provide the necessities of life or by being criminally negligent.
Her preliminary inquiry on the manslaughter counts was supposed to begin today in front of Judge Jamie Campbell, but she instead pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.
Prosecutor Denise Smith withdrew the manslaughter charges and said she wouldn't be offering any evidence on a count of aggravated assault, which was then dismissed by the judge.
The Crown consented to Gomes's release on a $2,000 recognizance, with a retired Baptist minister acting as her surety.
Gomes, who was in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth for nine months, must live at an address on Summer Street in Wolfville.
The judge also ordered her to have no contact with Rahman, remain in Nova Scotia and deposit her passport with Halifax Regional Police.
Gomes, who is being represented by Peter Mancini of Nova Scotia Legal Aid, will be sentenced May 26. The maximum penalty for the offence is five years in prison.
Lawyers for the Crown and defence will have a joint sentencing recommendation to put before the judge but wouldn't reveal it outside court today.
Rahman, 24, also from Bangladesh, is charged with manslaughter for allegedly causing his daughter's death.
He has elected trial by a Supreme Court judge alone. His preliminary inquiry got underway in provincial court last week. Judge Anne Derrick heard from eight witnesses before adjourning the hearing until May 31 for final arguments.
Evidence from Rahman's inquiry is banned from publication. He remains in custody at the Dartmouth jail.
Gomes and Rahman studied computer science at Acadia University in Wolfville before moving to Halifax.
Paramedics rushed to the couple’s apartment on Gottingen Street last July 23 in response to a call about an infant in distress. The parents were arrested July 24 and charged with aggravated assault.
Police laid the manslaughter charges last month after receiving the final autopsy report from the Medical Examiner's Office.
Source: Halifax Herald
A vicious killer? Not this woman. She has a support group in Halifax.
Dead baby’s mother may face deportation
Woman’s lawyer says she would be at risk if sent back to Bangladesh
A Bangladeshi woman who faced charges in the death of her infant daughter could be deported after the baby’s father goes to trial for manslaughter in February.
Jane Elizabeth Gomes received a conditional discharge last May for failing to provide the necessities of life for seven-week-old Aurora Breakthrough. Gomes pleaded guilty to the charge, which was downgraded from manslaughter.
The Crown has asked her to testify at the manslaughter trial for her former partner, Ashiqur Rahman.
"So on the one hand we have the Department of Justice compelling her to remain in Canada (to testify)," immigration lawyer Lee Cohen said Monday. "And then today, Jane was issued with an exclusion order by the Canadian Border Services Agency. . . . So once that trial occurs, the exclusion order kicks in and she will then be obliged to leave Canada."
Cohen says Gomes fears she could be harmed in Bangladesh for having a child out of wedlock, for her role in her child’s death and for her estrangement from her former partner.
"All of these things are just culturally unacceptable in her home country," Cohen said. "There’s every reason to believe if she were able to return . . . this would create serious social problems for her."
Cohen said his client has told him her life could be in danger in the rural areas of Bangladesh, where she said some still practise honour killings to remove a perceived stain on the family’s reputation.
Gomes’s lawyer plans to look at whether he could file a claim for residency on humanitarian grounds or ask for refugee status.
A temporary publication ban on the facts of Gomes’s case will stay in place until the end of Rahman’s trial.
The pair were arrested July 24, 2009 after staff at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax reported a case of child abuse. The couple’s baby daughter had been rushed to hospital in critical condition the day before. She died July 27.
Judith Tod said she could not talk about the case’s specifics but she hoped that others would reserve judgement on the Bangladeshi woman Tod has taken into her home.
Tod and about 60 others in the Wolfville area rallied to support Gomes as the Canada Border Services Agency served her with the exclusion letter Monday at the local RCMP detachment.
Gomes met Tod soon after she was taken to jail in Dartmouth before her trial. The chaplain there listened to Gomes’s grief about her daughter’s death and told her she knew someone who might empathize with her, said Tod, who has an adult daughter and lost another child.
"So I know how hard that is," she said. "My daughter travelled a lot in her job and I thought, ‘What would happen if she was halfway around the world and got in trouble? Who would step up for her?’ So I just started praying for (Jane)."
Tod visited her frequently. When the young woman had nowhere to go after her release in May, Tod took her in. Slowly, the Wolfville woman introduced her to people in the community.
Gomes had been studying computer science at Acadia University before her arrest. Tod and more than a dozen others were able to raise enough money to cover the woman’s fall and winter tuition, because she is not allowed to work. The university also helped with a bursary, Tod said.
"She didn’t want to sit around doing nothing . . . so when people needed their computers fixed, Jane would volunteer. When they needed some help in the garden, she went," Tod said.
"So people that are standing on the sidelines throwing stones really ought to think twice about their lives and any mistakes they might have made in life, and whether they needed people throwing stones at them or whether they needed a hand up."
Source: Halifax Herald
Addendum: After three years, father Ashiqur Rahman is found guilty.
It took the police eight months to come up with a charge, they held both parents in jail until the mother agreed to change her story and testify against he father. At the trial you can be sure she knew she would go back to jail unless she gave the testimony prosecutors wanted. The defense lawyer relied on the absurd theory that a heart problem caused the broken bones. A more alert defense would have pointed to congenital conditions that make a baby prone to multiple fractures. There are solid grounds for skepticism in this case.
Rahman found guilty in baby daughter's death
A judge has found Ashiqur Rahman guilty of manslaughter and aggravated assault in the death of his infant daughter in Halifax three years ago.
“I do not believe Mr. Rahman, nor does his evidence raise a reasonable doubt,” Justice Felix Cacchione said Friday afternoon.
The Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge accepted the Crown’s arguments that Rahman, a native of Bangladesh, shook, struck or slapped little Aurora Breakthrough on four separate occasions, causing significant injuries and eventually her death.
In a decision that took almost three hours to read, Cacchione said the offence was “particularly distasteful and cruel in nature.”
Rahman, 26, has been remanded in custody pending his sentencing Aug. 7.
Aurora’s mother, Jane Gomes, also from Bangladesh, testified at trial that Rahman was continually frustrated with Aurora’s crying and more interested in myriad Internet money-making ideas than in his daughter. His frustration with the child’s tears led to the assaults, she said.
Rahman denied that scenario in his testimony, saying he wasn’t really involved in the care of the girl at all and didn’t have the opportunity to harm her. His defence was that an undiagnosed medical condition in the baby could have led to cardiac arrest and her death.
Aurora was seven weeks old when her parents called 911 from their Gottingen Street rooming house in Halifax on July 23, 2009, because she was having trouble breathing. She died in hospital four days later after being declared brain-dead.
According to medical evidence at trial, the girl had 30 rib fractures in various stages of healing and had suffered broken bones in three of her four limbs. Her brain showed signs of new and old injuries, and the back of her brain had dead tissue that had liquefied. Her brain injuries were described at trial by a doctor as “devastating.”
Cacchione said Gomes’s evidence at trial was balanced, although she initially told police that Rahman hadn’t hurt the baby. The judge accepted that Gomes decided to tell the truth in a second statement to police after she found out about the autopsy results, and that she had lied before that because she loved Rahman and was worried he would be in trouble.
Cacchione said Rahman manipulated that love to persuade Gomes to leave Acadia University in Wolfville and come to Halifax with him. The couple had met at Acadia.
Gomes was getting money from her family for her education, and Rahman needed it to fund his series of failed Internet business ideas, the judge said.
Cacchione called Gomes “a naive young woman, living on her own for the first time in a foreign country. She was isolated, and Mr. Rahman further isolated her by preying on her love for him.”
The judge said Rahman was trying to manipulate the evidence when he testified and was argumentative during cross-examination.
“He argued, answered questions with his own questions, and appeared to be tailoring his evidence to conform with the evidence that was presented at trial,” Cacchione said.
The judge said he accepted that Rahman was more concerned with his business than with the child, and that he was frustrated with a number of things — his lack of business success, the financial predicament he and Gomes found themselves in, a bill from the hospital, the baby’s crying, and the fact that caring for Aurora took up much of Gomes’s time and she was no longer able to help him with his business ideas.
“The evidence satisfies me that Mr. Rahman had no bond with his child,” the judge said. “His focus was on his business, himself, and nothing else.”
While Rahman wore a suit or shirt and tie for most of his court appearances, on Friday he sported a T-shirt that said on both the front and back: Ashiqur Industries, Storm TV, Free Online.
Storm was the name in the window of an office space at the Cornwallis Inn in Kentville, where other tenants said Rahman seemed to be sleeping at night and made them uncomfortable when he looked at them.
He was out on bail at the time and was supposed to be staying at a home in Aldershot, just outside Kentville. Crown attorney Denise Smith said in court that he had not been doing so. She said Kentville police were asked to investigate the alleged breach, but that Rahman had been reporting to the RCMP regularly with a different address.
About a dozen supporters were in court with Gomes, who kept her eyes downcast throughout the afternoon and left without comment.
Defence lawyer Don Murray said his client is disappointed in the verdict.
“He still feels very strongly about the truth of what he had to say about his involvement about his daughter’s injury and death,” he said.
Murray said he didn’t think it was a mistake for Rahman to testify in his own defence.
“It’s unfortunate that the judge chose not to accept what he had to say,” the lawyer said.
Smith said the Crown “is very pleased with the verdict that was rendered today. We feel it was a just verdict, and we’re gratified to see reflection in the reasons for judgment of some of the evidence that we led.”
Source: Halifax Chronicle Herald