Pubdate: Fri, 25 Mar 2005
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2005, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Rod Mickleburgh


VANCOUVER -- A 33-year-old father whose young daughter was rushed to 
hospital after drinking from his water bottle laced with the date-rape drug 
GHB was granted a conditional discharge in Provincial Court here yesterday.

Judge Cathy Bruce said the man was remorseful, of otherwise good character 
and his immediate forthrightness on what had happened was a major factor in 
his daughter's quick recovery.

She further agreed with defence lawyer Rishi Gill that the man has already 
been punished because of widely reported police accusations that he had 
irresponsibly left the water bottle out in the kitchen.

In fact, the water bottle, which the man was given at a party the night 
before, was hidden behind the couch in the family living room.

"[The defence noted that] perhaps the police provided incorrect and 
inflammatory information to the public and the court finds this a 
mitigating factor," said Judge Bruce, rejecting the Crown's demand for a 
$1,000 fine.

The man's name may not be disclosed to protect his daughter's identity. He 
had been charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm and 
possession of an illegal substance, GHB. However, he pleaded guilty 
yesterday to a single, lesser charge of causing bodily harm by an illegal act.

The man's wife submitted a letter to the court calling her husband "an 
excellent father." She said the incident was an accident.

Prosecutor Andrew Cochrane acknowledged that the man's guilty plea and 
"full and frank co-operation" provided most of the basis for the Crown's case.

But he argued strongly against a discharge. "This was an aggravated 
possession of an illegal substance . . . that caused harm to his daughter. 
This is a very strong case of an unlawful act causing bodily harm."

According to Mr. Gill, his client hid the bottle behind the couch before 
going to bed. His two-year-old daughter found the bottle the next morning 
and drank from it. She was soon lapsing in and out of consciousness.

As her distraught mother was phoning 911, the man came downstairs, realized 
what had happened and said the bottle contained GHB.

The event became front-page news after Vancouver police told reporters that 
the man had left the water bottle on the kitchen counter "without any 
regard for [his daughter] playing nearby. It was a completely irresponsible 

Mr. Gill called police remarks about the case "inappropriate and 
inflammatory. They made things very difficult for him. . . . Reporters came 
to his house and he was on the front page."

The youngster recovered quickly in hospital and has not suffered any 
aftereffects, court was told.

Although she agreed to a conditional discharge that will not burden the man 
with a criminal record, Judge Bruce said he was guilty of a serious error 
in judgment, even if the risky water bottle was not left out in the open.

"Any substance not under lock and key is fair play for a child. You put 
your child at risk," she told him.

She placed the man on 12-months probation, ordered him to perform 50 hours 
of community service, including 10 hours speaking publicly about the danger 
of possessing harmful substances, and forbade him to drink alcohol or 
ingest illegal drugs in the vicinity of his daughter.

"Although the child recovered, this engendered enough fear in the heart of 
her mother that I don't think she will ever forget."
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