Gambling dad admits to leaving toddler in van outside Calgary casino

A gambling father has admitted to leaving his toddler in a van outside a casino in sub-zero temperatures.

CALGARY — A gambling father has admitted to leaving his toddler in a van outside a casino in sub-zero temperatures.

The 51-year-old man pleaded guilty Monday to wilfully causing a child to be in need of government intervention under the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

He still faces a criminal charge of child abandonment.

The provincial offence carries a maximum punishment of two years in jail and a $25,000 fine, while the criminal charge could result in a prison sentence of up to five years.

Crown prosecutor Paul Mason said police and firefighters were called to the Silver Dollar Casino in Calgary shortly after midnight on March 30 after security staff heard a child crying in a parked van.

He said the 21-month-old boy, barefoot and lightly dressed, was found strapped in a car seat. The van’s windows had been obscured by blankets.

“His hands and feet were cold to the touch (and) he had thrown up on himself,” Mason told provincial court Judge Sean Dunnigan.

“The temperature at the time … was -9 C.”

Mason said the father entered the casino at 10:05 p.m. and was inside gambling when he was arrested at 12:23 a.m. He had left briefly on two occasions.

Sentencing submissions on the provincial charge are set for Oct. 8.

The criminal charge was adjourned to Dec. 10, although the man’s defence lawyer has said he will argue that the conviction under the provincial act bars further proceedings under the Criminal Code.