National Post

April 11, 2002

Island woman guilty of injecting grandson with near-lethal dose of insulin

CHRIS MORRIS
Canadian Press
National Post

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. (CP) - A grandmother who threatened the life of her baby grandson by injecting him with a near-lethal dose of insulin has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

Darlene Eva Gallant, 41, of Summerside will be sentenced next month on the assault charge, which carries a maximum prison term of 14 years. An earlier charge of attempted murder was withdrawn.

Gallant was expressionless as she was escorted into provincial court Wednesday, her eyes downcast and her hands held near her face.

She said nothing during the brief appearance, but glanced at her daughter, the baby's mother, as she left court. She kept her head down and shielded her face with her long hair and her hands as she was led away.

Gallant will remain in custody until sentencing.

"She is extremely remorseful," defence lawyer Trish Cheverie said outside court.

Cheverie said that although Gallant was found fit to stand trial, she was not well at the time of the assault on her grandchild.

"She was seriously depressed and her mind was not functioning at its optimum," Cheverie said.

Gallant was babysitting her grandson, Marcus Arsenault, who was 17 months old at the time of the assault on Dec. 19. She admitted injecting the non-diabetic toddler with insulin, which can be fatal in high doses.

The baby's parents rushed him to hospital after he became ill, and Island physicians quickly transferred him to a Halifax hospital for more intensive treatment.

Outside the courtroom, Wendy Arsenault, the baby's mother, said only that the boy was back at home with her.

"He's doing better," she said, fighting tears.

Gallant will be sentenced May 27. Lawyers are preparing a pre-sentence report that will include a medical assessment of long-term health effects for the baby.

"The long-term consequences have not been assessed yet," Cheverie said.

Cheverie said Gallant has been helped by the medical and psychological treatment she has received since her arrest. She said her client understands the seriousness of the crime and how it has affected her daughter.

"She realizes the anguish she has caused her family and she fully acknowledges her responsibility in causing pain for her family," she said.

The case has shaken this quiet, seaside community. There is no clear understanding of why Gallant took the needle and injected the child, although earlier reports indicated she was depressed because of stress and money. Insulin was kept in the house because another family member is diabetic.

Cheverie said a statement of facts was being worked on by lawyers. When asked why Gallant did it, the lawyer said there are still issues to be resolved.

Cheverie said some members of Gallant's family still visit her regularly.

"This is an extraordinarily difficult set of circumstances," she said. "This is a remarkable family and a loving family, but that's not to say the wounds have healed."

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