KITCHENER — A troubled woman who ran an unlicensed daycare in her Kitchener home has been accused of poisoning six more children and an adult with eye drops.
Christine Allen, 32, appeared in court Friday as 14 new counts related to seven new victims were added to the allegations against her. In all, she now faces 18 counts involving nine victims.
A mother of three with a history of mental illness, Allen has been in custody since she was initially charged in July in relation to two alleged child victims.
The charges include nine counts each of administering a noxious substance — the active ingredient in over-the-counter eye drops — and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
Allen appeared calm and composed as she intently read the new charges with her lawyer, Craig Parry, while standing in the prisoner's box in a baggy green tracksuit.
Parry said Allen instructed him to waive her right to apply for release on bail, which would have been opposed by the prosecution.
"Obviously, they are very serious allegations and they need to be looked at carefully and thoroughly before they're responded to," Parry said outside Kitchener court.
A ban sought by Crown prosecutor Lynette Fritzley prohibits publication of any information that could identify the nine alleged victims.
The children ranged in age from just one day to six years at the time of the alleged poisonings, with the 32-year-old mother of one child also named as a victim. Several were infants.
Police and child-welfare officials began investigating after a Kitchener couple gave Allen a place to stay this year while she was struggling with depression over the loss of custody of her own three kids.
The couple's two-year-old son got sick and lethargic. He was taken to the hospital three times and admitted twice with symptoms that stumped doctors.
During a four-month investigation, police also learned of a six-year-old boy who was hospitalized with similar symptoms in the summer of 2010 while Allen ran a home daycare on Millwood Crescent.
Both children recovered after being hospitalized for several days.
After charging Allen in relation to those cases, Waterloo Regional Police asked the parents of other children who may have gotten ill while in her care to come forward.
The new charges laid Friday are a result of that appeal and investigation since Allen was arrested in July.
In documents filed in relation to family court proceedings in 2011, Allen wrote about spending time in a Guelph psychiatric hospital in 1999 and 2000 after having a "mental breakdown."
She also said she has since seen a Kitchener psychiatrist and was on medication for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"My medical problems do not interfere with my ability to take care of children," Allen wrote. "I comply with the treatment and medication prescribed by my doctors."
Her former husband, Richard Keilbar, alleged in response that Allen had a history of abusing painkillers and went "out of control" many times after going off psychiatric medications.
The substance in the alleged poisonings — tetrahydrozoline — can cause symptoms including abnormal drowsiness, low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, decreased heart rates and even coma if ingested, especially by children.
Allen's offences are alleged to have taken place mostly in Kitchener, with two in Guelph and one in Toronto. One victim was allegedly poisoned in 2005, with the other cases clustered from mid-2010 to March of this year.
Allen said in her family court affidavit that she had operated a home daycare for four or five years.
She is scheduled to make her next court appearance via video Nov. 1.