Jury finds Japanese exchange student not guilty of improper treatment of newborn’s body

The Japanese exchange student gave birth in the bathroom of a Saanich home last fall and left the remains of the infant in a plastic bag in her bedroom.

  • Jul. 5, 2011 5:00 a.m.

A jury has found Narumi Bito not guilty of charges to related to the improper treatment of a newborn’s body.

The Japanese exchange student gave birth in the bathroom of a Saanich home last fall and left the remains of the infant in a plastic bag in her bedroom.

Bito was charged with disposing of her child’s body with the intent to conceal its birth, and offering an indignity to the remains.

A 12-person jury, made up of eight women and four men, came to a unanimous decision Tuesday morning and found Bito not guilty on both counts.

“Probably more than anything, she is exhausted right now and just wants to rest and start trying to put this behind her,” said defence lawyer Christopher Mackie. “It’s one thing to have gone through the incident itself, and now to have to relive it a second time has been quite taxing for her.”

Bito came to Canada last summer to attend the University of Victoria. Though she was pregnant when she arrived, she never got tested to confirm her suspicions. She also didn’t tell anyone that she might be pregnant.

The 21-year-old, through an interpreter, testified in Supreme Court that she gave birth in the bathroom in the middle of the night on Sept. 17. She said the baby appeared to be lifeless.

Bito wrapped the infant girl’s body in a plastic shopping bag and put it behind a chair in her bedroom.

Ten days later, the smell of decomposition attracted the curiosity of home-stay mother Gayle Floyd, who found the remains and notified police.

Bito hadn’t told anyone about what happened. Only after police got involved on Sept. 27, did others learn Bito had been pregnant and given birth.

Mackie says his client has been unable to go to school or work since her arrest. Her passport was confiscated.

After being found not-guilty of any crime, Bito now intends to return to Japan.

“I’m sure she’s anxious to get home,” Mackie said. “She seemed quite emotional … We’re quite elated at the result.”

B.C. Crown counsel spokesperson Neil Mackenzie said Crown respects the jury’s verdict, and it’s too early to speculate whether the decision will be appealed. He said the ability to appeal a jury’s verdict is “quite restrictive.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com