Babysitter who killed infant sentenced to six years in prison
Clutching a brown teddy bear, Jessica Ryan listened attentively as the woman convicted of killing her infant daughter was sentenced to six years in prison.
Melissa Garland, 43, was convicted in November of manslaughter in connection with Brookelyn Hopkins’ August 2010 death.
Garland, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter to avoid a murder trial, was babysitting Hopkins at the time.
The two were in Garland’s Ingersoll townhouse, with Garland holding the five-month-old at the top of a staircase.
Court heard that Garland’s cat ran between her legs, causing her to lose her balance and drop Hopkins down the stairs.
Going down the stairs, Garland grabbed and consoled Hopkins, who she has said appeared unhurt by the fall.
Garland then began playing ‘airplane’ with the infant, court was told, and accidentally let go of Hopkins, sending her into either a wall or a desk.
The case returned to a Woodstock courtroom Thursday, with Garland sentenced to six years in prison, less credit for 57 days already served.
Defence lawyer Rhonda Fawcett calls it a “just and appropriate sentence”, noting that defence and the Crown had jointly suggested a sentence of six to eight years.
“I don’t think any sentence will help the family deal with the loss of Brookelyn. It’s a tragedy,” she says.
Before the sentence was announced, Ryan read a victim impact statement in court.
Through tears, she said that the night of her daughter’s funeral, she learned she was pregnant with another child – a boy who continues to remind her of the daughter she lost.
“Seeing my baby boy sleep reminds me of Brookelyn in the hospital,” she said.