'Not knowing what happened was torture,' the girl's mother told the court
The family of a little girl who died after some seven hours in a hot SUV say they are "shocked" at the 22-month sentence handed down to the owner of an unlicensed Vaughan daycare on Friday.
"It is difficult to understand the sentence," the lawyer for the family of two-year-old Eva Ravikovich said in a statement. "No penalty will ever bring back their little girl nor will it erase the horror that Eva suffered and the pain and loss they feel each and every day."
Olena Panfilova pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death at a trial in April.
At her sentencing hearing Friday, the child's mother Ekaterina Evtropova delivered a victim impact statement, in which she described the devastation of the loss.
Just metres away from Panfilova, Evtropova told the court that she's battled isolation, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder since losing Eva.
"The moment it happened, my happy life stopped," she said, adding that the loss "completely ruined her life."
Evtropova said she was also racked with guilt in the nearly four years since the incident, after Panfilova claimed that Eva died of an undetermined medical problem in her crib during a nap.
"How could I have missed the symptoms?" she remembered asking herself.
At her trial in April, Panfilova admitted that she had in fact left Eva in the back of her SUV on a July morning, not returning for her until the afternoon, when temperatures inside the vehicle were determined to have eclipsed 50 C, causing deadly heat stroke.
In his submission to the court, the Crown attorney argued that Panfilova's decision to uphold that lie for years should factor into her sentencing, as should the irresponsibility of running a crowded, unlicensed operation.
Panfilova and her daughter were found to be caring for 35 children on the day of Eva's death. In-home daycares are supposed to limited to five children. With the caretakers spread so thin, the Crown said Eva's death was "inevitable."
Panfilova's lawyer disagreed, describing Eva's death as a negligent accident, instead.
Before the judge left to make his decision, Panfilova herself briefly addressed the court. Through a Russian interpreter, she apologized to Eva's parents and said she "will carry the burden until the end of her days."