'A pathological liar and a monster' Father of dead toddler reacts to day home operator's surprise plea
Elmarie Simons, the operator of an unlicensed day home in Silverado, pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death on Monday in connection with the November 2015 death of 18-month-old Cerira McGrath.
On November 12, 2015, McGrath and her twin brother were left in the care of the day home Simons operated in the southwest neighbourhood of Silverado.
Simons placed the 18-month-old girl in a car seat that was too small for the toddler and strapped the girl into the chair with the chest strap fastened. Simons proceeded to place the child and seat in a closet for more than five hours. During that time, Simons left the home and ran errands.
The young girl was found unresponsive and EMS was called to the day home. McGrath was transported by ambulance to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
An autopsy confirmed McGrath died by asphyxiation caused by the strap of the car seat.
Ryan McGrath, Ceira's father, says he was caught off guard by Simons' guilty plea as he and his family had prepared for a two-week trial. "I don't want to speculate but the first thought is this individual is looking for some leniency at this point."
McGrath learned the specifics of Simons' actions of November 12. 2015 for the first time in the courtroom on Monday.
"It's absolutely horrific. It's disgusting," said McGrath. "I dont know who could do this especially a person we trusted and that others trusted. She came so highly recommended."
“i would describe that scene in the courtroom as coward. She couldn’t make eye contact with me. i would now describe her as a pathological liar and a monster.”
While the details were gutwrenching to hear, McGrath says the silver lining was realizing his son was not witness to the cruelty of that fateful day but he's still unsure where his son was during Ceira's time in the car seat.
Ceira's loss has left a void in the family. “Her brother misses her so much. We miss her so much. She was so happy. So healthy."
McGrath confirms his twins had been attending the unlicensed day home for five months and he continues his call for holding such homes to a higher level of accountability.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Monday, April 23, 2018. McGrath says he's hoping Simons receives the maximum sentence permitted.
With files from CTV's Ina Sidhu