Mother pleads guilty to hiding dead newborn

Had the large garbage dumpster been where it could have been emptied, the body of Samantha Richard’s newborn son might never have been found.

Instead, a City of London garbage collector only emptied three of the four large bins behind the highrise building at 675 Richmond St. on Thursday, June 16, 2016 after finding one of them was too close to an overhang to be reached - writes

Three hours later, a man searching the bins for recycling materials found a black reusable President’s Choice grocery bag on top of some cardboard in the only bin that hadn’t been emptied.

He wanted to empty the bag and use it for himself. He untied the two knots that held it shut and found inside a deceased, fully-developed, newborn baby.

That began a police investigation and the quick arrest two days later of Richards in Amherstburg, two hours away from her London apartment.

Two years later, Richards, 25, has pleaded guilty in the Superior Court of Justice to concealing the body of a child.

A second charge of neglecting to obtain assistance during child birth was dropped in December before her scheduled Ontario Court preliminary hearing after the Crown said there was no reasonable prospect of conviction on that count.

In support of the guilty plea, Justice Duncan Grace heard an agreed statement of facts by the Crown and the defence which detailed how the baby’s body ended up in the trash and the role of surveillance cameras throughout the area in cracking the case.

He also heard that the baby was dead for three days before the body was found.

What it didn’t explain was why Richards, who lived in an apartment on Ann Street not far from where the baby’s body was found, made the decision to dispose of the remains the way she did.

Assistant Crown attorney Konrad de Koning told Grace that Richards was aware she was pregnant and that she was likely to have a live birth. That was clear from the activity on her cellphone during her pregnancy.

The baby was born in the bathroom of her apartment on Monday, June 13, 2016.

The baby “died shortly before or during childbirth,” the statement of facts said.

Richards hid the child and placenta in a towel, placed it in the reusable shopping bag and hid the bag in a below-grade grate at the front of her building.

Surveillance camera footage from Tuesday, June 14, 2016 shows she didn’t leave her home all day.

The next day, Wednesday, June 15, 2016, at about 5:30 p.m., Richards retrieved the bag with the dead child from the grate.There were several cameras along the path she took on foot, with the bag in her hand, heading south to the back of 675 Richmond St. and to the four dumpsters.

Then, out of sight of any cameras, she placed the dead baby in one of the dumpsters, before heading to Richmond Street at Pall Mall Street. More cameras showed she no longer had the black bag.

The baby’s body wasn’t found until the next day and only because the garbage in one of the four dumpsters wasn’t collected.

An autopsy revealed the baby was a “normally developed male child” and was at or near full term. He weighed just more than six pounds.

There was no evidence of injuries or developmental abnormalities.

Elena Tugaleva, a London forensic pathologist, reported the cause of death was “unascertained.”

“Ultimately, Dr. Tugaleva found that the baby was viable. Her opinion was that the child had reached 38 weeks of gestation, plus or minus two weeks,” de Koning told Grace.

Richards was determined to be the biological mother of the child through DNA tests.

Grace ordered a pre-sentence report for Richards.

She will be back in London court on July 20 for sentencing.

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