Toronto Sun

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Tot dies alone in apartment

Mother charged with criminal negligence

By JONATHAN KINGSTONE, TORONTO SUN

A young mom is charged in the death of her two-year-old child who died of dehydration after allegedly being left alone for a day without food or water in a sweltering North York apartment.

"This is a tragedy that should never have happened," said a friend and neighbour of the family.

Adrianna Maria Henriques DaSilva was found dead Monday in the Biggin Ct. apartment, near Victoria Park and Eglinton Aves., where she lived with her mother.

An autopsy performed Tuesday found the cause of death to be dehydration.

Clara DaSilva, 22, is scheduled to appear in College Park court today to face a charge of criminal negligence causing death.

A police source alleged the mother was "partying" and left Adrianna alone for up to 25 hours in the non-air conditioned, fourth-floor apartment in Monday's scorching heat.

'DANCING AT CLUB'

"She goes dancing at a club downtown every Sunday night," said DaSilva's friend and neighbour. "That's where she was."

The building's superintendent said DaSilva arrived back at 4:45 p.m. Monday and called from the lobby for help getting into her apartment.

"She said her purse had been stolen and she didn't have a key," said the super, who didn't want to be named. "I let her in. She thanked me and I left."

More than one hour later, shortly after 6 p.m., DaSilva came to neighbour Nalini Dipchand's apartment and knocked on the door.

"She said, 'My baby's not breathing. Her mouth is blue'," Dipchand said yesterday. "I phoned 911."

The emergency line operator asked to speak with DaSilva, who came to the phone and told the call-taker that Adrianna was "stiff as a board," said Dipchand, Dipchand, a mother of two who often looked after Adrianna, said DaSilva told her she left her daughter with a babysitter whom she met within the last week.

"She said the woman took off," Dipchand said. "I said, 'Let's call her,' but she didn't have the number."

The accused woman's friend added: "There are so many people who would have looked after that little girl."

The little girl had a regular babysitter who recently refused to return after not being paid, friends alleged.

Adrianna was born three months premature and her tiny size left her slow to sit up, crawl and walk.

"She was always a happy little girl," Dipchand said. "She was so happy to finally be walking. She wouldn't sit down."

Friends helped Adrianna's dad -- who they said came by often to take Adrianna out -- make funeral arrangements yesterday.

Copyright © 2002, Canoe, a division of Netgraphe Inc.