Day home operator responsible for death granted day parole, toddler's parents not notified
The parents of Ceira McGrath are speaking out after discovering the woman who pleaded guilty in connection with the death of their 18-month-old daughter has been given day parole less than a year after sentencing.
Ceira died in November 2015 after being left in a car seat in a closet for several hours while under the care of Elmarie Simons, the operator of an unlicensed day home in the southwest neighbourhood of Silverado. The young girl was found unresponsive and transported by ambulance to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
An autopsy determined the toddler had died as a result of asphyxiation from the car seat strap.
In April 2018, Simons pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death in connection was Ceira’s death. Simons received a three-and-a-half year prison sentence the following month.
The McGrath family was not notified of Simons’ scheduled parole hearing in January of this year and say they were shocked to learn that the woman who was responsible for Ceira’s death had been granted day parole with a possibility for full parole this summer.
Ryan McGrath, Ceira’s father, says a great injustice has been done to his daughter and has elected to speak out in an effort to warn other families. A petition has been created by the McGraths in an effort to revoke Simons’ day parole.
The Parole Board of Canada and Correctional Service of Canada do not automatically update victims or families of victims regarding the timing of parole hearings or the outcome as ‘some prefer not to receive any further information about the offender’. Those who would like to receive updates must submit forms to do so.
Ryan McGrath says the requirements to receive updates on Simons’ parole eligibility may have been discussed following sentencing but, if they were, the McGraths missed it.
“I don’t think our family could have been expected to take that information verbally at the end of the court proceedings,” said McGrath. “We were a mess emotionally.”
Conditions of Simons’ parole include a treatment plan, refraining from contact with the McGrath family, and a restriction on caring for any child under the age of 12 unless Simons is supervised by another adult that has been approved by her parole supervisor.
With files from CTV’s Brenna Rose