KAMLOOPS, B.C. — A Canadian woman who drowned her newborn son five years ago will not face any time behind bars, despite a judge calling her actions “abhorrent.”
Courtney Saul, 24, has been sentenced to two years probation by Judge Len Marchand since the girl did not have a prior criminal record and became pregnant from rape.
According to reports, Saul, then a student at Thompson Rivers University, gave birth in Dec. 2011 in her basement apartment in Kamloops.
But as she had an exam at school later that day, she wasn’t sure what to do with the baby, and decided to get rid of him.
“She finally decided she should drown the baby. She did that in the sink and then she went to her exam,” attorney Will Burrows told reporters.
When Saul returned, she wrapped the baby, who she named George Carlos, in a t-shirt and then placed him in a box. She then placed the box in a backpack, which she put in the trunk of her car.
Three weeks later, the child was discovered in the trunk after Saul loaned her vehicle to a friend, who then was involved in a collision. The driver reportedly fled the scene of the accident, and when firefighters and police arrived, they opened the backpack hoping to find identification.
But officers rather discovered a dead baby, and soon arrested Saul. She reportedly told investigators that she had planned to bury the child.
Saul also asserted that she had become pregnant after being raped at a party while intoxicated.
She had been charged with infanticide, then second-degree murder. In August, her charge was reduced back to infanticide, which carries up to five years behind bars.
“Nothing is going to change what happened, but certainly now Ms. Saul is not a risk to anybody,” her defense attorney, Murray Armstrong, said, according to the Huffington Post. “In terms of punishment, there’s no punishment greater than the guilt and remorse she feels.”
Judge Marchand decried Saul’s act, stating, “It is an abhorrent act and it was inflicted on a vulnerable and completely helpless person.” However, he decided not to sentence her to prison because of how the child had been conceived, and because Saul had committed no other crimes.
Pro-life groups have expressed concern that Saul got off so easy.
“You can hardly even call this a slap on the wrist,” Jack Fonseca of the Campaign Life Coalition told reporters. “The same excuses used to justify abortion are now being applied to justify the murder of children after birth. I think it can be argued that this judge is decriminalizing child murder through the back door, by precedent.”
“This sentence is sickening,” he said. “Societal acceptance of abortion is leading to the acceptance of infanticide, both in individuals like this young B.C. woman, and in the judge who let her free, as well as throughout the rest of society, thanks to the teaching power of the law.”