Winnipeg woman guilty of hiding infant remains may have wanted to visit: defence

Winnipeg woman guilty of hiding infant remains may have wanted to visit: defence

WINNIPEG — A woman who stored the remains of six babies inside a U-haul storage locker was not trying to hide or dispose of them, but was instead keeping them — perhaps to continue to visit them, her defence lawyer said Wednesday.

Greg Brodsky told Manitoba’s Court of Appeal that it is not clear what Andrea Giesbrecht’s motivation was, but her conviction and 8- 1/2-year prison sentence should be set aside.

“We contend that her actions do not constitute disposal. Rather, the products of conception were stored, kept and saved,” Brodsky told the three judges hearing the case.

“Why would anyone want to store six bodies?” Justice Christopher Mainella asked at one point.

“She may have had a facetious or a not realistic expectation. She may have wanted to visit. She may have wanted to preserve … she doesn’t have to explain,” Brodsky said.

Giesbrecht is entitled to the presumption of innocence and it’s on the Crown to prove she intended to dispose of the remains rather than simply store them, Brodsky added.

The argument was challenged by Mainella.

“I didn’t see an … authority in your case book that says that you don’t commit this offence by being good at hiding dead bodies. Because essentially … what you’re saying is that you can defeat this charge by burying a body in your backyard (and) you’re still in possession of it.”

“She wasn’t keeping her vinyl record collection here. These lockers were simply for storing dead bodies,” Mainella added later.

The remains were found by U-haul workers in October 2014 after Giesbrecht fell behind on her rental payments. She had previously stored at least some of the remains at another Winnipeg facility before moving them to U-haul.

Giesbrecht, 44, never testified. The trial never heard a motive for her actions, and the remains were too decomposed to determine how the babies died.

The trial was told the babies were Giesbrecht’s, were at or near full term and each child was likely to have been born alive.

Crown attorney Jennifer Mann said Giesbrecht made “extensive efforts” to hide the remains and cover up any smell of decomposition. Some had been placed inside plastic bags and tubs. Others were inside plastic pails covered with detergent or a cement-like compound.

“Surely that can be considered a discarding, when you place infants in that manner,” Mann said.

Giesbrecht was charged under a section of the Criminal Code that forbids the disposal of a child’s dead body with intent to conceal the fact that its mother has delivered it, whether the child died before, during or after birth.

She was given consecutive sentences and Brodsky said the trial judge erred in treating each alleged offence as separate.

“She put them in a locker at U-haul after signing a contract. That’s the offence. It is … one offence.”

The judges reserved their decision and did not indicate when it will be released.

Winnipeg infants

Just Posted

An incredible closing ceremony capped off the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (File photo by SUSAN JUDGE/2019 Canada Winter Games)
2019 Canada Winter Games Legacy Fund Society hands out $655,000

35 not-for-profit groups across Alberta to get money

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and chief executive officer of Alberta Health Services, says COVID ICU patients have increased by more than 100 per cent in the past month. (Photo by The Government of Alberta)
Record number of people in ICU: says AHS president

The head of Alberta Health Services says hospital staff are treating more… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team announced Monday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer Rebels acquire goaltender Connor Ungar, forward Liam Keeler in separate trades

The Red Deer Rebels have acquired goaltender Connor Ungar from the Brandon… Continue reading

Alexander Michael Talbot, 29, was found guilty of operating a vehicle while prohibited, flight from police and vehicle theft in Red Deer provincial court recently. (Advocate file photo)
Man charged following police chases in central Alberta last summer is sentenced

Alexander Michael Talbot sentenced to 22 months in prison

Red Deer musician Curtis Phagoo is glad the Alberta government is investing $2 million to help the province’s live music industry, but he would have liked the criteria to be expanded, so the money could be used as relief to cover revenue shortfalls. (Contributed photo by Cory Michaud)
Red Deer musicians welcome $2M in grants to help live music, but would have preferred relief program

The money is for future projects and can’t be used for retroactive expenses

Marlene Bird is shown in this undated handout provided by radio station CKBI. A Saskatchewan man who brutally attacked a woman and set her on fire has been denied parole. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CKBI **MANDATORY CREDIT**
Man who attacked, set fire to Indigenous woman in Saskatchewan denied parole

Man who attacked, set fire to Indigenous woman in Saskatchewan denied parole

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police don’t expect gang conflict to subside, say it might escalate

Vancouver police don’t expect gang conflict to subside, say it might escalate

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix talk about phase two in B.C.'s COVID-19 immunization plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. residents who had AstraZeneca vaccine can choose second-dose vaccine

B.C. residents who had AstraZeneca vaccine can choose second-dose vaccine

This image released by Forest Lake Camp shows campers boating and kayaking on the lake of the camp in Warrensburg, N.Y. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Forest Lake Camp via AP
Canada’s summer camps hope to reopen as provinces plan to lift restrictions

Canada’s summer camps hope to reopen as provinces plan to lift restrictions

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals tap another military officer to replace Fortin on vaccine campaign

Liberals tap another military officer to replace Fortin on vaccine campaign

Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas, Thursday, May 6, 2021 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The audit, ordered by the Arizona Senate, has the U.S. Department of Justice saying it is concerned about ballot security and potential voter intimidation arising from the unprecedented private recount of the 2020 presidential election results. (AP Photo/Matt York, Pool)
Republican Arizona election official says Trump “unhinged”

Republican Arizona election official says Trump “unhinged”

In this June 29, 2020 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Supreme Court to take up major abortion rights challenge

Supreme Court to take up major abortion rights challenge

FILE - In this May 14, 2021, file photo, signs instruct visitors on the proper way to wear masks at the Universal City Walk in Universal City, Calif. California is keeping its rules for wearing facemasks in place until the state more broadly lifts its pandemic restrictions on June 15. State officials said Monday, May 17 that the delay will give people time to prepare, and for the state to make sure that virus cases stay low. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
California will stay masked for another month

California will stay masked for another month

Most Read