An appeal court has quashed the conviction of a British Columbia woman in the drowning death of a toddler she was babysitting, saying the original outcome was “the product of a miscarriage of justice.”
Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge of criminal negligence in the death of 19-month-old Iyanna Teeple in Cranbrook, B.C.
The toddler was found unconscious and not breathing in a bathtub on May 26, 2011, and was flown to a Calgary hospital, where she later died.
The B.C. Court of Appeal ruling issued Wednesday says police and/or the BC Prosecution Service failed to disclose to Bouvette’s lawyers several items of key evidence.
The ruling notes that it did not find bad faith or malice on behalf of the Crown, but the non-disclosure meant Bouvette was “deprived (of) the opportunity to make an informed decision about how to plead.”
The ruling orders a stay of proceedings, saying retrying her case would be “unjust” and an “abuse of process” as she had already served her whole sentence.
“She has already been punished for the offence of criminal negligence causing death. It would amount to punishing the appellant again for succeeding in having her guilty plea and conviction quashed,” the decision states.
The court also notes that Bouvette, who had a history of addiction, relapsed after being charged, lost custody of her children and was assaulted in jail due to being perceived as a “baby killer,” which resulted in her being moved to segregation.
It also says “she has struggled with addiction issues, homelessness, poverty, social isolation, and physical and mental health challenges” since being released from custody.