Canadian mother who hid baby bodies jailed for 8.5 years

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - A Canadian mother who hid the decomposing remains of her six babies in a storage locker was sentenced on Friday to eight and a half years in jail, as a judge said her actions must be denounced.

Andrea Giesbrecht, 43, was convicted in February of six counts of concealing the body of a child in 2014. Staff at storage company U-Haul, a subsidiary of Amerco, discovered the stinking bodies in her locker after she fell behind on payments.

Police then found the remains of five boys and a girl, ranging in gestational ages of 34 to 42 weeks, in garbage bags, plastic bins and pails, along with children’s toys and clothing.

One infant’s remains were encased in concrete and another’s in a detergent-like powder.

The advanced decomposition of the infants’ bodies prevented determination of the cause of death and discovery of any evidence that they were born alive, preventing possible homicide charges, Judge Murray Thompson said in a Winnipeg, Manitoba, court.

Thompson added that he accepted expert testimony that the infants likely were born alive.

Thompson said the gruesome discovery had a profound impact on workers at the storage company, including one who passed many sleepless nights after the incident.

“These were not victim-less crimes. ... There are just some things you cannot unsee,” Thompson said.

The remains of all six infants were linked to Giesbrecht and her husband through DNA evidence. Giesbrecht concealed the pregnancies, even from her husband, and did not seek medical treatment for them.

“These were newly delivered infants, our most vulnerable. ... The only person who can protect a newly delivered infant is their mother,” the judge said.

Factoring in time served, Giesbrecht will serve slightly less than eight years in total.

Her lawyer, Greg Brodsky, had unsuccessfully asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying that too much time had passed since the charges. Brodsky said that Giesbrecht was upset at being away from her other children while in jail awaiting sentencing, and felt embarrassed.

Brodsky told the court last week that Giesbrecht, who has two teen-age children, did not murder the babies, according to media accounts.

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Leslie Adler