Alberta woman who drowned sons guilty of manslaughter

WETASKIWIN — A depressed and suicidal mother was convicted of manslaughter Friday for drowning her two young sons in the family bathtub after a judge ruled a “black hole” swallowed the Crown’s attempt to prove that she knew what she was doing.

WETASKIWIN — A depressed and suicidal mother was convicted of manslaughter Friday for drowning her two young sons in the family bathtub after a judge ruled a “black hole” swallowed the Crown’s attempt to prove that she knew what she was doing.

Allyson McConnell had been charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of 10-month-old Jayden and two-year-old Connor sometime between the evening of Friday, Jan. 29, 2010, and the following Monday morning.

“Due to the black hole in the evidence, the Crown is left not knowing what happened in the McConnell home during those final few days of the McConnell’s children’s lives, including what Allyson’s mental state was when she drowned them,” Justice Michelle Crighton wrote in her decision.

“It is left with a reasonable doubt that she had the specific intent to kill her children.”

Court heard no direct evidence about what happened during those few dozen hours. McConnell testified that she has no memory of them.

The Crown argued she killed the boys as revenge against her husband with whom she was undergoing a bitter divorce. But defence lawyer Peter Royal argued that McConnell’s mind was so clouded by booze, sleeping pills and severe depression that she couldn’t have formed the intent required to convict her of murder.

Members of both McConnell’s family from Australia and that of her former husband were present for the verdict. Court was quiet as it was delivered as observers wiped away silent tears.

McConnell, 33, remained hunched over, stared fixedly ahead and showed no reaction — just as she had during testimony.

“It is hard to envisage a sadder set of circumstances than those involved in this case,” wrote Crighton. “These events have affected everyone who came in contact with the McConnell family, but none so profoundly as the McConnell and Meager families themselves, who carry with them every day the enormity of their loss.”

Outside the courtroom, Crown lawyer Gordon Hatch said he felt the Crown had proved murder, so “I’m disappointed in that regard.”

“But a verdict of murder would not have been any more satisfying in the sense that these boys are dead and we can’t do anything about that.”

McConnell’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 9. She remains in custody in Alberta Hospital Edmonton.

Court was told McConnell had a long history of suicide attempts that began after her father got her pregnant when she was 15 and living in Australia.

Investigators found several searches on her computer relating to suicide and drowning that had been conducted in the days before the deaths, including a search that asked: “How long does it take to drown?” and another asking: “How long does it take to die from strangulation?”

Officers also found a rope tied to a joist in the basement. A chair was sitting underneath.

McConnell testified that she had trouble getting one of the boys to go to sleep that Friday night and didn’t get him to nod off until about 11 p.m. She said she then sat down on her couch and began drinking and taking sleep medication, overwhelmed by her depression and stress from the divorce.

After that, her memory is almost non-existent. She remembers waking up in a bathtub, along with submerged and plugged-in electrical appliances, but little else.

Psychiatrist Alberta Choy, who has been treating McConnell, testified that her patient was suicidal and that her identification with her children was so complete that she may have seen killing them as an extension of her own death.

On the morning of Feb. 1, 2010, McConnell drove to Edmonton, parked at a toy store, ordered lunch and then tried to kill herself by jumping off a bridge onto a busy freeway.

The trial was told it was her estranged husband, Curtis McConnell, who pulled the lifeless bodies of his little boys from a tub of cold water.

Just Posted

Photos: Red Deer barn dance entertains children, adults Tuesday

Hundreds of Central Albertans started their Westerner Days celebrations early with an… Continue reading

Manslaughter charge laid against Red Deer man more than a year after homicide

A manslaughter charge has been laid against a Red Deer man, more… Continue reading

Woman facing charges after pedestrian critically injured in hit and run

A woman is in custody in connection with an alleged hit and… Continue reading

Friday hail storm came at a bad time for farmers

Amount of damage a hail storm does often depends on how far along crops are

Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game 8-6 in 10 innings

American League 8 National League 6 (1o innings) WASHINGTON — A record… Continue reading

Photos: Red Deer barn dance entertains children, adults Tuesday

Hundreds of Central Albertans started their Westerner Days celebrations early with an… Continue reading

Man suffers critical injuries, Red Deer police arrest woman in pedestrian crash

A man is in hospital with critical injuries and Mounties have arrested… Continue reading

Cull hasn’t been able to solve bunny burden in Alberta mountain town of Canmore

CANMORE, Alta. — Problems persist in an Alberta mountain town overrun with… Continue reading

Canada should help Holocaust denier on trial in Germany: civil liberties group

OTTAWA — A civil liberties group is urging the Canadian government to… Continue reading

Westerner Days: Send us your photos

Your reader photo may just make the pages of the Adovcate.

Adam Henrique signs $29.1M, 5-year extension with Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Centre Adam Henrique has signed a $29.1 million, five-year… Continue reading

Fashion firms upend design routine to focus on speed, trends

NEW YORK — Prototypes? Passe. Fashion company Betabrand saw that knitwear was… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month