A Canadian woman who has admitted to killing her newborn baby won’t spend any time behind bars after her lawyers requested the judge hand down a suspended sentence.
Courtney Saul, born in 1992, pleaded guilty to one charge of infanticide, after drowning her hours-old baby, George Saul, in her bathroom sink. But Saul will only placed on probation for two years, based on a joint submission from Crown and defense lawyers.
Crown prosecutor Will Burrows told Kamloops Provincial Court that Saul’s deceased newborn was found in the trunk of her vehicle weeks after his death. Saul was 19 when her baby was born and the court heard she didn’t know she was pregnant until it was “too late” in the pregnancy.
Saul told an officer she gave birth to the child where she was living alone in a basement apartment. She began going into labor and sat on the toilet to give birth and she then held the child for a period of time while she tried to figure out what to do. Saul drowned the baby in her bathroom sink before going to school to take an exam.
According to Canadian Press, “She held the baby for some time, but she had an exam that day,” Crown lawyer Will Burrows said. “Because she had the exam, she didn’t know what to do. She finally decided she should drown the baby. She did that in the sink and then she went to her exam.”
She then returned home later in the day and wrapped the dead baby in a t-shirt then a shower curtain before eventually putting the child in a computer box and putting the box in her trunk. She had planned to bury the baby but someone borrowed her car and had an accident and officials later discovered the box with the dead newborn.
Now, Saul has been merely sentenced to two years’ probation in provincial court in Kamloops, B.C.
Defence lawyer Murray Armstrong noted the circumstances.
“This is certainly a tragedy in all senses of the word,” he said, adding Saul remains troubled by the events but is moving forward.
“Nothing is going to change what happened, but certainly now Ms. Saul is not a risk to anybody,” he said. “In terms of punishment, there’s no punishment greater than the guilt and remorse she feels.”
When asked by Judge Len Marchand whether she had anything to say, Saul, who has since moved back to Lillooet, managed six words before crying.
“I know I made a mistake,” she said.
Circumstances of pregnancy was a mitigating factor
Marchand noted Saul’s remorse, but also the seriousness of her offence.
“It is an abhorrent act and it was inflicted on a vulnerable and completely helpless person,” he said.
But Marchand said mitigating factors — including Saul’s lack of a criminal history and the circumstances of how she became pregnant — were powerful.
In addition to her two-year probation term, Saul was ordered to surrender a sample of her DNA to a national criminal database.