Her Majesty the Queen v. Meredith Katharine Borowiec

(Alberta) (Criminal) (As of Right)

(Publication ban in case)


Criminal law.


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Criminal law - Offences - Infanticide - What is the legal standard for infanticide in section 233 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46?

The accused was charged with two counts of second degree murder relating to the death of her newborns delivered in 2008 and 2009. The trial judge found that both babies were born alive and abandoned immediately after birth, when the accused wrapped each in a towel, placed them in a garbage bag and then in a dumpster. He concluded that the accused wilfully caused the death of her two newborn children but that her mind was disturbed as a result of the births. Accordingly, he acquitted her of second degree murder but convicted her of two counts of infanticide under s. 233 of the Criminal Code. The Crown appealed the acquittal and sought a new trial on two counts of second degree murder. It argued that the trial judge erred in applying the law of infanticide, in his consideration of the expert evidence, and in failing to provide adequate reasons to allow for meaningful appellate review. The majority of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Wakeling J.A., dissenting, would have allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial on two charges of second degree murder. He was of the view that the trial judge did not apply the correct standard to determine whether the accused had a disturbed mind under s. 233.