The parents of a little girl who died in the care of a Calgary Dayhome Operator broke down as they described the magnitude of their loss in court on Monday.
READ MORE: Calgary dayhome operator admits to death of toddler left in car seat in closet for hours
“Life is pretty much miserable now,” Ceira McGrath’s mother Tanya Gladwell told court.
“I have nightmares now — how scared she must have been,” she said.
The emotion-filled victim impact statements were read during a sentencing hearing for Elmarie Simons.
Simons pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death on April 15, 2018 — the date her trial was scheduled to begin.
“This was an incredibly special little girl you’ve taken away … you’ve robbed her of everything,” father Ryan McGrath said.
Ceira died Nov. 12, 2015.
READ MORE: Calgary police investigate dayhome death of toddler Ceira McGrath
According to an agreed statement of facts, that morning, Simons put Ceira in a car seat and left her in a closet for more than five hours — leaving the home completely to go to Walmart and McDonald’s. Ceira died from asphyxiation caused by the car seat strap.
“My first thought was to make this statement 5.5 hours long,” McGrath said. “Who on this earth could possibly do this to such a beautiful, precious little girl?”
Court heard the child seat was too small for Ceira so Simons buckled Ceira in with the chest strap but not the crotch straps.
“There was nothing preventing Ceira from sliding down the car seat,” court heard.
Court heard Simons lied to authorities about the circumstances surrounding Ceira’s death, telling numerous timelines and explanations for the little girl’s death. Simons babysat Ciera and her twin brother at her unlicensed Silverado dayhome, Elmy’s Daycare.
Simons also admitted she had put Ceira in a carseat in her closet on other occasions, “whenever Ceira needed some seclusion.”
READ MORE: Charges laid against woman in death of child at Calgary dayhome
Ciera’s father expressed much anger towards Simons during his statement.
“You’ve taken a perfect life from us and you’re still here. Disgusting,” he said.
Both parents said they struggle with sleep and mental health issues related to the loss.
They said they try to be happy for Ceira’s surviving twin, Colby, but said it’s difficult.
Gladwell said she still can’t bring herself to look at photos of her little girl and said Colby is left with “two very messed up, grieving parents.”
The sentencing hearing continues Monday afternoon with submissions from the prosecution and defence.
Simons remains out on bail.
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