Tearful start to trial of exchange student charged in death of her newborn

NOTE: This article contains graphic details from witness testimony that will be upsetting for some readers.

NOTE: This article contains graphic details from witness testimony that will be upsetting for some readers.

Tearful testimony from a Saanich home-stay mother who discovered the body of a dead newborn wrapped the first day of a Supreme Court criminal trial against a young Japanese exchange student.

Gayle Floyd found the infant wrapped in a blue bag hidden in the bedroom of Narumi Bito on Sept. 27, 2010 – 10 days after the 20-year-old quietly gave birth in Floyd’s Saanich Road home.

On Monday, Floyd described the morning of Sept. 17, when the baby was born, she found spots of blood on the kitchen and bathroom floors. Bito, she said, was hunched over the toilet with blood dripping down her legs. Floyd assumed that she had cramps and was menstruating heavily.

It wasn’t until Sept. 27 when a strong smell, coming from Bito’s room, led Floyd to the grim discovery.

“(The smell came from) what I thought was just a pile of dried menstrual pads; that blood smell of days and days in the waste basket,” Floyd told Crown prosecutor Dan Scanlan during examination.

Floyd found the smell coming from a bag tucked away behind an armchair in Bito’s room. When she opened it, she saw the remains of a baby, still attached to the placenta.

“I opened the bag and all I could see was a baby. I mean, not at first – couldn’t digest it, I guess,” Floyd recalled.

She phoned the manager of the home-stay program and the department chair of the foreign language studies program at the University of Victoria, where Bito was an exchange student.

The pair, Paula Leahy and Jackie Prowse, attended Floyd’s residence and called Saanich police.

Floyd described Bito as a “friendly, quiet, but engaging” girl. Despite the language barrier – Bito sat Monday in court with a pair of Japanese translators – Floyd never had issues communicating with the exchange student.

Testimony will continue this week from Saanich police officers and detectives, as well as another home-stay student living with Floyd.

The Supreme Court trial, expected to last two weeks, is being conducted before judge and jury.

kslavin@saanichnews.com