Thursday, 16 December 2010

SBS: British Columbia: Avtar Basi

 LOUISE DICKSON,  December 11, 2010  
A Victoria provincial court judge will decide in January whether Avtar Basi violently shook an 11-week-old baby girl in frustration or whether her devastating injuries were caused by his misguided attempt to resuscitate her.
Basi, 33, is charged with the aggravated assault of Baby E on Nov. 26, 2008 in the Central Saanich foster home run by his girlfriend, Micheline Slader.
The trial, which began in September, continued Wednesday with final submissions by Crown prosecutor Nils Jensen and defence lawyer John Green. Towards the end, Basi started to cry. Slader sat behind, patting him on the back.
The evidence clearly established that Basi applied force to Baby E and caused the injuries that resulted in her troubling, sad and permanent disability, Green told Judge Adrian Brooks. But in order to convict Basi, the court must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the force he used on Baby E was not done for the purpose of caring for her. The court must also be satisfied that excessive force was used, said Green.
At trial, Basi testified that, on the morning of Nov. 26, the baby went limp and, in a panicked reaction, he shook her three times.
“If you accept what Mr. Basi told you, he must be acquitted,” said Green. “This was a resuscitative attempt rather than anger.”
Green reviewed the evidence of medical experts including Dr. Katherine Wambera, who testified about breath-holding episodes. The spells, which are more common in toddlers and might affect about three out of 1,000 infants, are marked by a period of loud crying, followed by a period of 15 to 30 seconds when the baby cannot get his or her breath. Wambera said she would not be surprised by a fearful reaction by an inexperienced caregiver witnessing a breath-holding spell.
Green also reminded the court that infants are physically frail, with their large heads and weak neck muscles.
“You can get significant injury without application of a great deal of force,” said Green. “Not very much force for an adult translates into a lot of force for an infant.”
Both Basi and Slader liked the baby and wanted to adopt her, Green said. Baby E had no annoying or frustrating behaviour. There was no hint of abuse.
“There is simply nothing before you to suggest this man would explosively go off and injure this infant,” said Green. “This shaking occurred in a disastrous, tragic resuscitation attempt.”
Jensen reminded the court that Baby E suffered a life-threatening traumatic brain injuries which destroyed half her brain. Basi knew that shaking could harm a baby, Jensen said.
“Ms. Slader confirmed that he handled her appropriately by holding the back of her head when picking her up,” he said.
At trial, three medical experts testified that any reasonable observer who witnessed the shaking of Baby E would know it would cause death or bodily harm, Jensen said.
He urged Brooks to reject Basi’s evidence that he tried to resuscitate Baby E because she stopped breathing.
“The baby stopped breathing because of the shaking, not before the shaking,” argued Jensen.
Nothing was troubling this child, the prosecutor said. She was a perfectly healthy baby and it is very rare for a baby younger than six months to experience breath-holding spells.
On the other hand, Baby E’s cessation of breathing is completely consistent with very violent shaking. It is clear from the evidence, the more violent the shaking, the more quickly the symptoms of severe head trauma appear, Jensen said.
In court and in conversation with an undercover officer who befriended him, Basi minimized how hard he shook the infant, Jensen said. Even defence witness, Dr. Charles Ferguson, director of the Child Protection Centre at the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital, who watched five videos clips of Basi demonstrating how hard he shook Baby E, said it was unlikely such shaking would result in any injury.
Jensen also observed that Basi did not tell anyone including the dispatcher, Slader, paramedics, doctors or police that he tried to revive Baby E.
Eventually, he told the undercover officer he shook the baby out of frustration.
“When he finally confessed, it was accompanied by heartfelt tears and remorse because it was the truth,” Jensen said.

No comments:

Post a Comment