The young Halifax couple accused of seriously injuring their newborn baby pleaded not guilty to charges in a Halifax provincial courtroom yesterday.
After an endless string of legal delays, Ashiqur Rahman and Jane Gomes, both 23, entered their pleas and were ordered to return to court on Dec. 22 to set a date for trial. Gomes had also been scheduled for a bail hearing, but it was put off until her next appearance.
The couple, originally from Bangladesh and staying in Canada on student visas, sat nearly motionless on the defendant’s bench and displayed little outward emotion during their brief, joint appearance.
Both were arrested and charged with aggravated assault after their seven-week-old baby girl, Aurora Breakthough, died on July 27. The child had been admitted to the IWK Health Centre four days earlier after her parents called 9-1-1 from their apartment on Gottingen St. to report that she had been seriously injured.
According to Crown prosecutor Denise Smith, a medical examiner’s report on the cause of death is expected soon, and it is likely the charges against Rahman and Gomes could be upgraded depending on the results. Smith said if the charges do change, the couple will be tried separately.
Since the case first came before the courts, defence lawyers have repeatedly asked for more time to look over the evidence – resulting in six separate court dates since July.
For now, both Rahman and Gomes will remain in custody at the Burnside jail, where they are forbidden from having any contact with each other.