Toronto Sun

Friday, November 5, 1999

Baby death case sifted

Charge under review

By GRETCHEN DRUMMIE AND SCOT MAGNISH, TORONTO SUN

The case of nurse Gita Proudman, charged with murder in the death of a deformed newborn, is under review, a senior Crown official said yesterday.

"This case is being reviewed as many others are," Al MacDonald, director of Toronto region Crown operations, said in an interview. He wouldn't elaborate on particulars of the review or the results.

But a source predicted the Crown "is going to pull it, and you can take that to the bank."

Proudman, 25, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of two-day-old Mustafa Dehzad on June 12, 1998. The premature baby died in a specialized-care unit at Humber River hospital. The infant had severe physical abnormalities and was not expected to survive, news reports said at the time.

Proudman's next court appearance is Nov. 17.

"The Crown charge-screening process is a continuous process. We look at charges at every stage of the proceeding. In this case we are doing just that," said MacDonald. "There is a duty on the Crown to assure itself at every stage of the proceeding, right up ... to the point of verdict, that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction."

MacDonald added that assuming there is the reasonable prospect of conviction, there has to be a determination the charge is in the public interest. He said it's the "two-part test we apply in every case and it's an ongoing process right up to the end of trial."

When asked whether there's a reasonable prospect of conviction in this case, he said: "We're applying the screening process and that's one of the questions."

"Most cases that involve a committal for trial proceed to trial, but that doesn't mean they were not looked at."

After a preliminary hearing a judge committed Proudman to trial on a second-degree murder charge. The case is set to go before a jury on Feb. 7.

The Crown can proceed with the charge, reduce it, or withdraw it altogether.

Proudman was granted bail on July 14, 1998.

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