A woman accused of improperly concealing a birth and obstructing police following the surprise delivery a year ago of a stillborn baby was sentenced Friday in Richmond to a sixmonth conditional sentence.
The B.C. Provincial Court judge in the case seemed reluctant to impose the sentence but concluded it was in the public interest for others to be aware that there were consequences from lying to police.
Carly Pullman of White Rock, who was 24 at the time, was living with her boyfriend and working at Tim Hortons. She had been gaining weight, but neither she nor her boyfriend - nor any of her family or friends - realized she was pregnant, the court heard.
On Aug. 15, 2011, after feeling ill, she left work and returned to her Richmond apartment.
To her shock, she delivered a baby on her bathroom floor, a child she said was non-responsive. She later cleaned up and placed the baby's body in a trash can outside her home.
When her boyfriend came home, she didn't discuss the incident but asked to go to a medical clinic as she was feeling unwell.
When that was closed, she went to the hospital, where an exam revealed she had recently delivered.
When she denied giving birth, the attending physician called police.
In several interviews shortly after the birth, Pullman denied the pregnancy. Then the truth began to come out slowly, but not before she directed police to several false locations to search for the baby's body, which was eventually found in the garbage can.
There are no allegations that Pullman was involved in the child's death.
In explaining her failure to call for help after the birth and her initial denials of the pregnancy, psychiatrists reported she had entered into a dissociative state after the traumatic event, that she was in shock and suffering post-traumatic stress and that she had poor coping skills.
They concluded she was at low risk to reoffend.
Prosecutor Gerri-Lyn Nelson asked for a two-year conditional sentence with strict conditions, probation, 75 hours of community service and thousands of dollars in restitution paid to the police and her boyfriend.
"The heart of the matter is really this - she lied," Nelson said. "None of us would be here if she had simply told the truth."
Defence lawyer Kevin Filkow argued restitution was unwarranted and asked for a conditional discharge.
"The circumstances of this case are that Ms. Pullman did not know, she did not recognize that she was pregnant," Filkow said.
"What happened was extraordinarily traumatic, physically and emotionally," he said.
"It is not a cold-hearted case. It was a horrible, tragic event. She's been through hell."
But Judge Ronald Fratkin noted the mitigating factors in the case: Pullman was young, had no prior police involvement, no history of mental illness, and she pleaded guilty to the charges and sought intensive counselling immediately after the traumatic event.
Fratkin sentenced Pullman to six months to be served as a conditional sentence and another year of probation.
More stories at www.theprovince.com