05/27/2013 14:28 EDT | Updated 07/27/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. daycare operator jailed 18 months in infant's death

A Coquitlam, B.C., daycare operator has been sentenced to 18 months in jail in connection with the 2011 death of an 11-month-old boy who was left unmonitored in a car seat in a room in the facility, and found strangled by the carrier's strap.

- Read more on the court case here

Maria McFerran pleaded guilty in September to criminal negligence causing the death of Arto Howley on Jan. 17, 2011.

The Crown had asked for two to three years in prison, while the defence believed a six- to 12-month sentence was more appropriate.

According to the agreed statement of facts read by the prosecutor, McFerran had six other children in her care at the time of death, although she was legally only allowed two at the Rattle-N-Roll daycare.

The court heard Arto was put in an upstairs room with the door closed in a car seat that had the padding removed, where he remained unmonitored.

According to the statement of facts, McFerran found him unresponsive an hour later with the strap around his neck.

McFerran then lied to first responders, saying the child was sleeping in a crib and got a blanket wrapped around his neck, the prosecutor said.

Crown prosecutor Jay Fogel says the case should make people think twice when using unlicensed daycare providers.

"The hope is that people will take this into account when they're looking for daycare, to make sure they're looking for licensed daycares, or if it's unlicensed that they're not looking after more children than they can comfortably take care of."