B.C. caregiver convicted of charge in starvation case

A Port Coquitlam, B.C. caregiver who was charged in connection with the 2018 death of a B.C. woman with Down syndrome has been found guilty of one of two charges against her .

Astrid Dahl’s verdict was read Friday in British Columbia Supreme Court in New Westminster, where she was found guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Dahl was found not guilty of criminal negligence causing death.

The court heard from the victim, Florence Girard, 54, who died of starvation and malnutrition – weighing around 50 pounds. when she died. Her body was found in Dahl’s house, where Girard spent years living in her care.

Sharon Bursey, Girard’s sister, expressed disappointment at the not-guilty verdict on the more serious charge of criminal negligence.

“I’m shocked. It’s not fair,” Bursey said, fighting back tears outside court. “She hid my sister from me. She wouldn’t answer any of my phone calls. She would never go back a call. It’s disgusting.”

The Crown alleged that over time Dahl stopped taking Girard to the doctor or dentist, or refilling her prescriptions, which led to her health deteriorating to the point where she could no longer eat properly. .

Testifying in his own defense, Dahl told the court that Girard didn’t like going on dates and would “go into a fit of rage” if he was rushed.

“Flo was very vocal when she didn’t want something and she didn’t like something,” she said.

But prosecutor Jay Fogel argued it was the caregiver’s duty to ensure Girard received proper treatment, pointing to evidence that the woman had lost weight for months before her death.

‘It may have been unpleasant, even uncomfortable, for Ms Girard to be seen by medical professionals at any time in 2018 as she was wasting away, but that was what it was Ms Dahl’s duty to provide’ , Fogel said.

Two witnesses who worked at the Kinsight Community Society, the nonprofit that oversaw Girard’s home care, said Dahl never mentioned any problems taking him to medical appointments.

The judge agreed with the Crown, reading aloud in his verdict that the evidence showed Dahl knew Girard needed medical attention, but chose not to provide or seek sufficient care.

However, the judge said Dahl’s role in Girard’s death did not justify criminal negligence.

Bursey still believes someone should be held accountable for her sister’s death, calling for systemic change and more oversight.

“What she did is tragic and everything has to change,” Bursey said.

A sentencing date is expected to be announced on July 21.


With files from Maria Weisgarber of CTV News Vancouver

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