Babysitter charged after leaving toddler alone in burning apartment

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A 49-year-old babysitter has been charged with arson by negligence, child abandonment and failure to provide the

A 49-year-old babysitter has been charged with arson by negligence, child abandonment and failure to provide the necessaries of life after a child was found alone in a burning apartment.

Josée Milot was arrested Thursday after a one-year-old girl was left unattended during an apartment fire early that morning in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood.

Milot pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance Friday via videoconference at the Montreal courthouse. She is being held at a detention centre in Rivière-des-Prairies and is expected to return to court for a bail hearing next Tuesday.

Antonio Cabral, her defence lawyer, said that Milot appeared to be in shock when they spoke before her appearance. She has a criminal past, including a conviction for drug trafficking and she is currently facing separate pending charges.

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Police officers had to crawl in order to reach the toddler inside the burning apartment building. (Radio-Canada)

"She's someone who hasn't had an easy path, she's someone who comes from a disadvantaged background and was involved with substance use problems in the past," said Cabral.

Cabral added that his client has also been through therapy for a drug addiction over the past few years, but that it hasn't been entirely successful.

The toddler's mother, whom CBC News is not naming to protect the child's identity, told Radio-Canada she was aware of Milot's past but that she had been, until that moment, a "very good babysitter."

A fluke of a rescue

Montreal police say Milot was babysitting the girl when the fire broke in the building on Dézéry Street early Thursday morning.

It appears she had put something on the stove before leaving the unit to go to another, according to police. Milot was still in the building when flames broke out.

A group of about 20 police officers happened to be dealing with a separate incident nearby around 12:45 a.m. when residents flagged them down, alerting them to the fire at the apartment building.

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Montreal police found a one-year-old girl alone and in tears inside a burning apartment building Thursday morning. (Alain Béland/Radio-Canada)

A resident, who jumped from his balcony to another one below when the smoke started filling the stairwell outside his door, screamed at the officers that a baby was inside a unit on the second floor.

The building was so enveloped in smoke that officers had no choice but to crawl in order to reach the girl. They managed to rescue the toddler, who was found alone and in tears in an apartment on the second floor.

They also had to break down doors to several apartments to get tenants out. In all, about 30 people were forced out of their homes.

The child and four police officers were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, while four other police officers were treated at the scene.

Police say the child was injured during the fire, but that she is expected to recover.

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Article Babysitter charged after leaving toddler alone in burning apartment compiled by www.cbc.ca

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