Children’s deaths shattered family — (Edmonton Sun) Allyson McConnell, Alberta Mother Who Drowned Sons In Bathtub, Sentenced To Six Years For Manslaughter — (Associated Press)

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Edmonton Sun

By Pamela Roth

First posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 05:35 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 09:23 PM EDT

WETASKIWIN, Alta. — Curtis McConnell fell to his knees when he found his two young boys dead in a bathtub at his Millet home in February 2010.

When he entered the family home that fateful afternoon, the television was loud and nobody answered when he called out.

He received a phone call earlier that day from police, informing him that his ex-wife, Allyson McConnell, had fallen from an overpass in Edmonton.

At the home, he noticed the bathroom door was shut and locked, so he opened it with a knife only to make a grim discovery.

“I could smell their dead bodies. I reached into the water and the water was so cold,” said an emotional Curtis as he testified during the second-degree murder trial for Allyson in Wetaskiwin Court of Queen’s Bench Tuesday.

“I could feel something there. I had to pull them out.”

Wearing a black jacket and hair tied back in a braid, Allyson showed little emotion throughout the proceedings as she sat slumped in the prisoner’s box staring at the floor.

The 33-year-old has admitted to killing her two young sons, two-year-old Connor and Jayden, 10 months, but had her lawyer enter not guilty pleas on her behalf Monday.

In the months leading up to the children’s deaths, the court heard how the couple’s relationship began to crumble.

The pair met in 2006 at a ski resort in B.C. and married in January 2007 in Australia, where Allyson was born.

Their first child was born in July 2007, their second in March 2009. A month after the birth of their second child, the relationship turned sour and Curtis moved into the basement of their Millet home.

He initiated divorce proceedings in December 2009 and later moved in with his parents.

Allyson wanted to take the boys with her to Australia, but Curtis fought against the move, creating more tension between the couple.

According to agreed facts, on Feb. 1, 2010, Allyson drowned her two children in the bathtub of the couple’s home. She then drove to Edmonton, had lunch and jumped off an overpass at Calgary Trail and Whitemud Drive, falling into the eastbound lanes of traffic.

She was taken to University Hospital where she was treated for various injuries, and later transferred to Alberta Hospital where she remains under constant suicide watch.

RCMP later found numerous searches about suicide and drowning on Allyson’s computer.

At the time of the slayings, Curtis said he didn’t think Allyson had killed the children to hurt him. Now, he thinks different.

“Looking at the evidence I would say she would do it to hurt me,” said Curtis, noting Allyson had left her wedding ring in the bathroom beside the dead children. He’s since filed a $940,000 civil suit against her.

“She left the kids to rot in the bathroom for me to find. She just had so much anger towards me.”

Audrey McConnell used to be close with her daughter-in-law, visiting each other on a daily basis.

She told the court Allyson was a good mother and cared for her children well, but things changed dramatically when Allyson found out Curtis was not going to move to Australia with her and the children.

Things took a turn for the worse when Curtis filed for divorce, sparking Allyson to pull away from her mother-in-law and become withdrawn.

“She did an absolute 180 turn. It was an Allyson I didn’t know before. She got really angry and upset,” said Audrey, whose family is devastated by the slayings. “She was so cold and distant. The visits stopped. She didn’t come with the kids anymore.”

Despite the divorce, Audrey still supported Allyson, even buying her groceries and baby supplies before she left for a vacation in Palm Springs, where she received the grim news over the phone.

“I wanted to keep her in our family. I knew her family was far away,” said Audrey, who was surprised when Allyson told her she wanted to go on anti-depressants. “If we had thought something was wrong we would have never gone on vacation that year.”

pamela.roth@sunmedia.ca

@SUNpamelaroth

 

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Allyson McConnell, Alberta Mother Who Drowned Sons In Bathtub, Sentenced To Six Years For Manslaughter

CP  |  By Chris Purdy, The Canadian Press

Posted: 06/04/2012 12:24 pm EDT  |  Updated: 04/04/2013 10:29 pm EDT

THE CANADIAN PRESS

WETASKIWIN, Alta. – Jim McConnell thinks the lives of his two young grandsons are worth more than the sentence their mother has received for drowning the boys in a bathtub.

His former daughter-in-law, Allyson McConnell, was sentenced Monday to six years in prison. But she faces 15 months in custody because Justice Michelle Crighton gave McConnell double credit for the time she has already spent in a mental hospital. She’ll be eligible for early release in 10 months.

McConnell, who is originally from Australia, drowned the boys in the family home in Millet, just south of Edmonton, two years ago when she was severely depressed, suicidal and possibly affected by alcohol and prescription drugs.

Jim McConnell stood outside the courtroom and angrily questioned the judge’s decision.

“This is ridiculous. What’s going to stop people from going to kill kids now?” he said. His wife and son, McConnell’s former husband, sat in the hallway wiping away tears.

Crown prosecutor Gordon Hatch said he understands the family is stunned and upset, and said he is also disappointed. He had  recommended a 12-year term.

“There’s this desire always to try to explain a sentence as a basis for how much the children’s lives are worth, and that’s certainly not how we want to approach it,” Hatch said afterwards.

“If the judge had imposed 15 years or 20 years or life in prison — that’s not enough for these two children.”

During the trial, court heard that Allyson and Curtis McConnell were in the middle of a bitter divorce. She wanted to take their children back to her home country.

On Feb. 1, 2010, she drove an hour north of Millet to Edmonton, parked her car at a toy store and jumped off an overpass onto a busy freeway.

When police called her husband to say she was in the hospital with broken bones, he wondered where the children were and quickly drove home from work. He was horrified to find 10-month-old Jayden and two-year-old Connor floating in the tub among their plastic toys.

Their mother testified that she remembers nothing about the days before she jumped off the overpass. She also didn’t know her children were dead until her mother told her while she was in the hospital. The news drove her into hysterics.

She was originally charged with second-degree murder. The Crown argued at the trial that she planned to kill her children as revenge against her husband.

But the judge ruled there was a “black hole” in the evidence and no one could know whether the depressed and suicidal woman meant to kill her boys. Court heard McConnell has a history of depression and suicide attempts that began when her father got her pregnant when she was 15.

Since her arrest, she has been under constant suicide watch while a patient at Alberta Hospital in Edmonton. She testified during the trial that she will try to kill herself again because she does not want to get well.

Her comments “bring into sharp focus the terrible price she will continue to pay for her unspeakable actions,” Crighton said in her sentencing decision.

But “no matter how severely compromised Ms. McConnell was at the time, it cannot be forgotten that she took the lives of two vulnerable children who were entitled to look to her for protection.”

The judge said it would be inappropriate to allow their mother to serve no additional time in custody. Defence lawyer Peter Royal had  suggested she be allowed to return to her homeland a free woman.

Royal said the Canadian government has started deportation proceedings and his client could serve her sentence in Australia to be near her family.

Hatch said the deportation is probably on hold because the Crown is appealing the manslaughter conviction and is likely to appeal the sentence as well.

Crighton said she would recommend corrections officials allow McConnell to serve her sentence at the mental hospital until doctors determine she is well enough to be transferred somewhere else.

“I am concerned that if Ms. McConnell does not remain at Alberta Hospital until her physicians consider it appropriate to be transferred, the sentence I have imposed will do no more for her than prolong her inevitable demise,” said the judge.

Hatch added that the woman is still the subject of a mental health warrant, so it is unlikely that she will be released when she completes her sentence. She will have to remain under psychiatric care until she is no longer considered a danger to herself or others.

McConnell showed no emotion during the sentencing, sitting quietly as she had throughout the trial. When asked by the judge if she had anything to say, she shook her head and answered simply: “no.”

Crighton acknowledged the intense emotion of the case and the victim impact statements given to the court by Curtis McConnell and his parents.

The judge said no one who heard them will soon forget the anguish of Audrey McConnell, the boys’ paternal grandmother, who as she talked about how she had one day cleaned her patio doors and realized too late that she was wiping away one of the children’s sticky fingerprints. She cried for days knowing there would be no new ones.

“It is said that the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on,” said the judge. “So it will be for the McConnell and Meager families.”

 

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Lawyer says depressed mom who drowned Alberta children killed herself in Australia

by The Canadian Press

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 8:21pm

EDMONTON – A woman who drowned her two children in a bathtub in rural Alberta three years ago was still fragile and depressed when she killed herself earlier this week in Australia, says her lawyer.

Peter Royal said Allyson McConnell’s mother phoned him early Wednesday to tell him about the suicide and factors that possibly contributed to her desperate state.

She had attended the christening of a friend’s new baby a few days before the body of a 35-year-old woman believed to be McConnell was found at the bottom of a bridge in West Gosford, north of Sydney.

Royal said McConnell became emotional and despondent after the baby’s church service.

“I guess it brought back thoughts of her own children’s christenings.”

He added that he’s positive the dead woman is McConnell because her identification was found with the body.

McConnell was also recently upset about the Alberta Crown’s upcoming appeal of her manslaughter conviction and sentence, said Royal. The case was to be in court again on Oct. 30.

McConnell had admitted at trial that she drowned her two-year-old son, Connor, and his 10-month old brother, Jayden, in a bathtub in the family’s home in Millet, south of Edmonton, in February 2010.

Her Canadian husband, Curtis McConnell, found the children’s lifeless bodies in the water. Police had also phoned him to say his wife had driven to Edmonton, jumped off a freeway overpass and was in hospital.

The couple had been involved in an acrimonious divorce and custody fight, and the Crown argued at trial that Allyson McConnell planned to kill the children as revenge against her husband.

But the judge in the case sided with McConnell, ruling there was little evidence of whether the depressed and suicidal woman meant to kill her boys. Court also heard McConnell had a history of depression and suicide attempts that began when her father got her pregnant when she was 15.

McConnell, originally charged with second-degree murder, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years. But she was given credit for pretrial custody and served an additional 15 months in a psychiatric hospital.

She was deported to her native Australia in April.

At the time, Alberta’s justice minister railed in public about how McConnell’s sentence was too lenient.

Jonathan Denis also said justice hadn’t been served and he would push to have the woman brought back to Canada if the courts decided to increase her sentence.

“The attorney general making comments didn’t help things with such a fragile person,” said Royal. “These are comments she was aware of.”

Royal also filed a complaint against Denis, a lawyer, with the Law Society of Alberta, suggesting his comments were out of bounds and violated the impartiality of his job. The complaint has yet to be heard.

Denis issued a written statement Wednesday: “If this is indeed Ms. McConnell, then it marks a disturbing end to what has been a very tragic situation and is certainly not the outcome anyone wished for.”

Royal agreed McConnell’s case is tragic and said it will likely stay with him forever.

While it appeared the woman was feeling better, she was still seeing a doctor, he said.

And she had been under constant suicide watch while in custody in Alberta but, when she went home, she moved in with her mother, not a secure health facility, he said.

He called her death inevitable.

“There was some, I hate to say, foreshadowing of this from her own evidence at the trial,” Royal said.

McConnell testified that she would likely spend the rest of her life trying to kill herself because she didn’t want to get well.