Expatica news

Mother found guilty of killing her baby with methadone fix

13 April 2005

BRUSSELS – A young mother has been convicted for killing her three-month-old baby by putting methadone in his feeding bottle.

On Wednesday, ‘Le Soir’ reported that the 23-year-old, who cannot be identified under Belgian law, was given a 20-month suspended prison sentence.

She admitted that on the night of 14 April 2002, at Schaerbeek, she gave her baby methadone – a substitute for heroine used to treat addicts.

She was at the home of some friends who were drug addicts and wanted to stop her baby from crying.

One of her friends, a 35-year-old man who also cannot be identified, suggested she put one of his methadone capsules in her baby’s bottle.

The drug plunged the baby into a coma, but the mother and her friends did not notice until the following day because they were drugged on a cocktail of heroine, cocaine and cannabis.

It was only in the afternoon that the mother called the emergency services.

The baby was still alive when he was rushed to the Reine Fabiola hospital, but doctors were unable to save him.

Initially, the mother was prosecuted for involuntarily poisoning her baby, but judge Olivier Van Wilder decided she should be sentenced for the more serious crime of manslaughter.

In her defence, the mother argued that she did not know exactly what she was administering to her baby, but Van Wilder dismissed her claim, stating that given her friends she would have had conversations about methadone and its effects.

He also criticised her for refusing to admit to police during her first interviews that the substance had been methadone.

The mother claimed she was protecting the friend which gave her the methadone from also being prosecuted.

He was also found guilty of being just as responsible for the baby’s death as the mother.

Judge Van Wilder sentenced him to 180 hours community service and 18 months in prison if he fails to complete it.

The friend was already sentenced in 1997 to three years in prison for robbery with violence and drug use.

The rest of the friends were acquitted for failing to help a person in danger, but found guilty of group drug use.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news