POLITICS

Defence wants less time for mom who smothered son, then wrote about it in diary

03/26/2012 02:18 EDT | Updated 05/26/2012 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - A Calgary mother who confessed to killing her infant son in diary entries to her dead husband asked for forgiveness at the conclusion of her sentencing hearing Monday.

"I know saying sorry can’t bring anybody back," said a tearful Stacey Joy Bourdeaux. "I feel horrible for what I’ve done and there isn’t a day goes by without regrets.”

"I know that the past can never be erased," she added. "I hope some day I'll have an explanation for what I have done. Please forgive me so that I can forgive myself."

Bourdeaux, 34, pleaded guilty last summer to manslaughter in the death of 10-month-old Sean Ronald Fewer in 2004 and to the attempted murder of her five-year-old boy in 2010. She also admitted to failing to provide the necessities of life.

Bourdeaux admitted in her diary to both in messages to her husband Ted Fewer, who died a few years earlier in an electrical accident.

"Dear Ted. Now that you are gone I can confess about Sean,'' Bourdeaux wrote. "The night that he left us, it wasn't actually while he was sleeping.

"I did what I didn't want to do. The crying wouldn't stop, so I ended up putting a pillow over his face and made sure that it was stopping his breathing. I know it's something that I shouldn't have done, but I did.''

Sean was found not breathing in his crib in December 2004. At the time, his death did not raise any suspicion with the medical examiner, who ruled it was a case of sudden infant death syndrome.

In May 2010, police were called to Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary where a five-year-old boy was brought in with breathing trouble.

A few months later, police charged Bourdeaux with attempted murder and choking with intent. They looked into her background and that's when they discovered Sean's death.

Court heard Bourdeaux dragged the boy upstairs after he had thrown a tantrum. Over a two-hour period, she attempted to choke him.

She waited several days before taking him to hospital. He survived, but has severe brain damage, no longer speaks and has limited motor skills.

"Because of my selfishness Sean never even got to come up to his first birthday," she said. “I can’t imagine what this had done to my daughter ... she partially witnessed what happened.”

“I wish that I could go back in time and realize that I could get the help that I need.”

Defence lawyer Katherin Beyak says Bourdeaux deserves a sentence in the eight- to 10-year range and not the 18 years that the Crown is demanding. While the Crown has pointed to the journal entries as aggravating factors, Beyak told court Monday that the entries did show signs of remorse.

"When she said she knew it was something she shouldn't have done, I would view that as an expression of remorse," said Beyak.

"She's retrospectively looking back at what she did."

Beyak said Bourdeaux was both physically and sexually abused as a child and received virtually no counselling. That in turn hurt her ability to cope with stressful situations — all "provocative" factors in the death of the infant who was ill and constantly crying.

"The court has circumstances before it that mitigate the gravity of the offence."

Justice Terry Semenuk said Beyak had not provided him any previous cases for sentencing in which there was a long time period between the death of one child and a serious injury to another.

"It may be a significant factor in terms of raising the sentence in this case," he warned.

"Had it (the death) come to light at the time of the offence, there's no question this accused would have been dealing with child and welfare services," Semenuk added.

"Without speculation... the circumstances of the attempted murder may not have happened."

Semenuk will deliver his sentence on June 22.