Multiple charges including fraud laid against Vancouver daycare operator where Baby Mac died
VANCOUVER -- Charges differing from police recommendations have been laid against a woman in connection to the 2017 death of a 16-month-old at an unlicensed daycare in Vancouver, including an unexpected charge of fraud.
Vancouver police say Susy Yasmine Saad, 41, appeared in court Wednesday to face two charges of failure to provide necessaries of life and one count of fraud over $5,000 in the death of Macallan “Baby Mac” Saini.
The 16-month-old died in her unlicensed, unregistered daycare near Commercial Drive in January of 2017.
“Nothing can take away the pain of losing a child but we hope the family can find some sense of closure now that charges have been laid,” said Const. Tania Visintin, who revealed that the unusually long time to lay the charges came after police and Crown clashed on what would best apply in this case.
B.C. is one of the few jurisdictions where police do not lay charges and make a recommendation to Crown based on evidence investigators have gathered.
“Initially there were certain charges that were presented to Crown or recommended by us and it took time to decide, based on evidence that we had, what charges would be most effective and most appropriate,” Visintin said. “So in changing those charges, different thresholds had to be made, officers had to go back and re-speak to other families that had their children at this daycare.”
When asked what led to the fraud charge and whether it was tied to the number of children in Saad’s care, Visintin would only say other families were affected by an alleged “deceit factor” which were also presented to investigators.
A CTV News investigation in late 2017 found documentation outlining three separate instances where officers with Vancouver Coastal Health discovered Saad had broken the law by having too many children in her care.
“Almost physical sickness was our first reaction,” said Baby Mac’s father, Chris Saini at the time, after reviewing the records for himself. “Eventually, that just turned to anger.”
Saini and the child’s mother, Shelley Sheppard, have filed a lawsuit against Saad, describing a house “overcrowded with children” and alleging their child “had been left unattended and had choked on an electrical cord."
Saad defended herself in response to the civil suit one year ago, insisting, “the death was a tragedy but not the result of any negligence and at all material times, the Defendant met the requisite standard of care.”
When Vancouver police announced the charges on Thursday, Baby Mac's parents made a statement through one of the lawyer's handling their civil suit against Saad.
"The family is grateful that the Crown has approved charges and that Ms. Saad will be called to account for her actions." wrote Anthony Leoni in an email. "Since there are ongoing criminal and civil court processes Ms. Sheppard and Mr. Saini are not able to comment further at this time.
None of the allegations against Saad has been proven in court, either civilly or criminally. Vancouver police say she's been released on conditions and is scheduled to appear in court on the criminal charges in September.