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Mother who had baby in Wal-Mart bathroom sobs as she recalls the birth

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. -- A Saskatchewan woman sobbed as she described to a judge how she felt sick and was using the washroom in Wal-Mart when blood ran down her legs and a baby surprisingly dropped into the toilet.

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. -- A Saskatchewan woman sobbed as she described to a judge how she felt sick and was using the washroom in Wal-Mart when blood ran down her legs and a baby surprisingly dropped into the toilet.

April Halkett testified that the infant boy was blue and not moving.

"I was staring at him and there was so much blood," Halkett told court Wednesday. "He didn't look alive."

Halkett, 22, admits to having the baby during a 14-minute visit to the Wal-Mart store in Prince Albert on May 21, 2007. But she has pleaded not guilty to abandoning the child in the toilet.

Court has heard a shopper in the next stall heard grunts and saw a pool of blood on the floor. She told staff she thought a woman was having a baby and needed help.


Two other women later saw a tiny, purple arm poking out of the toilet bowl, which was filled with blood and bathroom tissue.

The store's manager plucked the baby out of the toilet and paramedics arrived to help him start breathing. He survived.

Halkett repeatedly testified that she didn't know she was eight months pregnant. When she saw the baby in the toilet and believed he was dead, she became "scared."

A female employee had knocked on the stall door and asked if she was all right, and Halkett replied that she was fine. Halkett again explained to the court that she was scared.

Halkett said she tried to clean up the bloody mess with toilet paper, then threw the paper into the toilet, on top of the baby. She washed her hands and left the store without talking to anyone.

She said she felt faint and had trouble walking to the parking lot where a group of friends and family were waiting for her in a vehicle.

Halkett said she didn't tell them about the baby and didn't ask them to take her to a hospital. She returned home to a community in northern Saskatchewan and slept for several days before learning police wanted to talk to her about a baby that had been found alive in the Wal-Mart bathroom.

Halkett said when she learned her baby was alive, she wanted to see him and wanted to tell police the truth.


Three months later, police charged Halkett with child abandonment. And as she waited for trial, a custody hearing was held to determine where the baby should be placed. The court issued a publication ban on the hearing, but Halkett said the boy does not live with her now.

She visits him regularly. "Because I love him," she said.

Defence lawyer Ajay Krishan told reporters outside court that Halkett plans to re-apply for custody after the trial, because the evidence clearly shows she was a scared young woman who thought she had delivered a dead baby in a public toilet.

"A lot of people have thought this was a woman who left her child to die, that she didn't want this child," he said. "I think you've heard that this is the furthest from the truth."

Lawyers are to present closing arguments in the case Thursday.

Halkett also testified that she gave birth to another baby boy nine months ago. She said she wasn't aware of that pregnancy either, until she felt pain one night and went to the hospital.

"I went in and they told me I was almost six months," she said.

Halkett said she first became pregnant in 2006, a year before she gave birth in Wal-Mart. She suffered a miscarriage during the third month of that pregnancy, she said.


Crown prosecutor Jennifer Claxton-Viczko questioned Halkett about the first pregnancy. Halkett said she was happy and told people she was expecting a baby. She was later open with people about the miscarriage.

Halkett testified she wasn't aware of the second pregnancy. She noticed she was gaining weight and took three home pregnancy tests, but they were negative. She said she also got her monthly periods.

Dr. Charles Simpson, an obstetrician with Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital, was the only other defence witness to testify.

He told court it's medically possible Halkett didn't know she was pregnant. And he said it's likely she experienced a "precipitous birth" that can last less than an hour and drop an infant from the birth canal in one or two pushes.

The baby "is sort of in a shock-like state for some time after the delivery," Simpson told the court. "Babies can stop breathing and moving for some time."

Simpson testified that in precipitous births, it can take five to 10 minutes for babies to come out of shock and start breathing. The births happen in about one to two per cent of cases.

He said the mothers often are also in shock and, although it's unusual, some women don't know they're pregnant until they give birth. Some studies show one woman out of every 2,500 doesn't know she is carrying a child until she goes into labour, he added.

In a written report entered as evidence, Simpson said home pregnancy tests are very reliable but their directions must be followed closely.


He also testified some pregnant women do experience regular bleeding consistent with their menstrual cycle.

Most pregnant women do feel a baby's movement inside them, he said, but there are cases where women are in psychological denial and don't feel anything.

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