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Wednesday, March 01, 2000

Baby shaker gets 7 years in prison

Victoria Times Colonist

VICTORIA - The parents of a nine-month-old girl said they were appalled after the babysitter who shook their infant to death was sentenced to seven years in prison yesterday.

Karen Harper, 40, who operated a daycare in her Colwood, B.C., home, was sentenced in the manslaughter of Megan Ayla Gauld, who was shaken to death on Jan. 20, 1998. Justice Dean Wilson of the B.C. Supreme Court also imposed a concurrent six-year term for assault causing bodily harm for a shaking incident that occurred to the baby six days earlier.

"Seven years for a life? Seven years is not a whole lot," Sharon Gauld, the child's mother, said yesterday after the sentencing. "A more appropriate sentence would be a life for a life."

Harper was convicted by a seven-woman, five-man jury last October. "Regardless of what they gave her, our life will still be the same," said David Gauld, the baby's father.

Mr. Gauld was also upset that Wilson did not apologize for the death even when the judge asked her if she had anything to say to the court before sentencing. She replied: "No, Mr. [defence lawyer Tom] Morino said it all for me."

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