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UPDATE: Mom came home to unresponsive baby, court hears

May 28, 2014 - 3:54 PM


KAMLOOPS – A Barnhartvale mother delivered tearful testimony in Kamloops Supreme Court this morning about her husband's alleged assault on their infant daughter.

Often pausing to collect herself, Cassandra Gunn, born in 1980, said she and her husband were often challenged by their daughter, who cried at length.

She came home from work on Valentine’s Day, 2012 to see her baby unresponsive, barely breathing and grey in colour. Her husband, Michael Beakley, born in 1978, was with their two children during the evening.

Beakley is charged with aggravated assault and criminal negligence.

Gunn said she and her husband were challenged by their daughter, who often cried at length. When she arrived home from work, Gunn said Beakley lifted the child out of the playpen and let her fall back, demonstrating how limp she was.

Gunn said she called 9-1-1 while trying to get a response from the baby.

“Her eyes were half open and sort of rolled to the side of her head and they were just fluttering... Her arms kept making a swimming-like motion,” Gunn said. "I was trying to get any reaction out of her."

Beakley then placed the unwrapped baby on the ground, she said. Gunn said none of this information was shared with her while she was at work.

The child was flown to B.C. Children's Hospital for emergency brain surgery.

Gunn’s mother testified Beakley told her the baby had been crying for four and a half hours. She said after the baby's surgery, the doctor said the baby suffered from non-accidental head trauma. They found bleeding in the baby's brain and emergency staff had to observe the infant for a period of 48 hours to determine if she would survive.

Non-accidental head trauma in infants is a term often used in shaken-baby syndrome cases.

Gunn said Beakley told her the baby stopped breathing when he wrapped her, but she resumed breathing when he unwrapped her and didn’t see a reason to call 9-1-1.

Under defence examination, the court heard Gunn and Beakley’s baby had a flu a couple weeks prior to the incident. Gunn said the baby was inconsolable, fussy, feverish and prone to vomiting. She admitted she did not take the baby to the doctor to address the symptoms.

Gunn said on the day of the incident, the baby did not appear feverish and only had a runny nose.

Under questioning from Beakley’s lawyer, Bob McRoberts, Gunn admitted to suffering from post-partum depression.

A sufferer of depression since the age of 16, Gunn said she stopped taking her anti-depressants because she wanted to continue her life without them and couldn’t afford the cost. She self-medicated with marijuana.

Gunn says Beakley did not want to have a second child which caused added stress in the relationship and recalled one instance where the tension erupted in domestic violence. She admitted to kicking and punching Beakley after he charged after her in their home.

Gunn denied all suggestions posed by the defence of her hitting or slapping her children, saying she spanked her eldest child on two separate occasions.

The trial is set to continue tomorrow morning.

To contact a reporter for this story, email, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

-This story was updated at 5:16 to include information from a cross-examination of Cassandra Gunn

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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