Sarah Jee-Wah Leung
Canada is a large country, with bragging rights to geographical size, thanks to perestroika, glasnost and the fall of communism, to being number one! Being number one, though, comes with a cost: attracting and retaining new immigrants. Asia has been one of the largest contributors to Canada’s burgeoning population since it gained independence in 1867.
Traditionally settling on the west coast, British Columbia is home to a large population of Chinese families. The culture is different and taboo subjects like pre-marital sex still create problems for young people. Sex? A good girl from a good family is not supposed to have sex before marriage. A pregnancy under these conditions would bring shame and dishonor to the family with the girl essentially becoming an outcast in her own home and community.
Given the importance the Chinese place on strong family ties, the threat of losing that connection must be terrifying and could potentially lead to devastating decisions being made by the girl in trouble. Compelling reasons for disastrous consequences, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case here.
Meet 24-year-old Sarah Jee-Wah Leung. Born in Canada on September 16th, 1985, she still lives at 2357 Charles Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, with her parents Derick and Maggy Leung. The Leungs dote on their children, Sarah and her younger brother, Eric, and run a modestly successful landscaping business.
Their children have both completed high school and know the value of hard work. Sarah worked at Donald’s Market as a cashier until 2009 when she told co-worker, Carmen Louie, that she was quitting to attend college in downtown Vancouver. Louie said Sarah was pretty, smart and a good worker who got along well with the customers, qualities that anyone would consider assets.
Sarah Jee-Wah Leung, a graduate of Templeton Secondary, is remembered by classmates as far back as kindergarten as tiny, cute, quiet and studious, and made friends easily – a fairly nice and pleasant girl, ordinary and normal. We don’t know all of the facts, and with the publication ban in place, that is a no-brainer. However, there are some things we do know. We know that Sarah is educated and that her family have a moderately successful landscaping business. We know Sarah worked in another local area business as a cashier but left in 2009 ostensibly to attend college.
What everyone is puzzled by is what Sarah Jee-Wah Leung has done lately. Allegedly. Did I mention that she lives at home with her family? Well, on a brisk early April day in 2009, her father, Derick Leung was fussing with his roses when he found a bag of what he suspected was garbage. More than a little irritated, Derick grabbed the offending plastic and opened it up to see what it was. All he recalls is a lot of red stuff.
The Vancouver Police Department was called and cops retrieved the bag which was found to contain the body of a newborn infant – full-term, male and very dead.
The discovery caused quite the stir in the neighborhood and the police sent out a plea to the mother of the infant to come forward as she would need medical attention. The detectives investigated and interviewed those in the area.
It was quickly ascertained that the identity of the mother was one Sarah Jee-Wah Leung. Can you imagine the surprise her family felt? No one in her home, not her younger brother, Eric, nor her mother or father had a clue that she was pregnant. Her boyfriend, and father of the dead infant, Anson Lee, was also apparently clueless about Sarah’s “condition”.
So no one knew Sarah Jee-Wah Leung had been pregnant for nine whole months, had given birth, allegedly murdered the infant, tossed it away, and no one even suspected. At least, that’s what the police investigation concluded.
There seems to be a plethora of women in the news who have managed to keep their pregnancies secret from everyone in their lives, so I guess I can try to imagine that someone I saw day after day, week in and week out, could keep something like that a secret – if she had no signs at all and didn’t gain that much weight, I suppose I could stretch my credulity to the limit and say, “Yeah, that could happen.”
But I’m having a really hard time with it, okay?
Hey, it’s not like the family accepted it either. Once Sarah Jee-Wah Leung had been identified as the mother, Sarah’s father, Derick, made the rounds in the neighborhood telling anyone that would listen that the police had made a mistake, that there had been an error in the DNA identification, that Sarah wasn’t the mother, and that they had apologized for the mistake.
Except that none of the statements Mr. Leung made were true. The mistake, the apology – well, these were lies. Constable Jana McGuinness has stated categorically that the police did not make an error, never apologized to the Leungs, and certainly didn’t discuss the April 2009 verification process regarding Sarah Jee-Wah Leung’s dead newborn.
So, after identifying Sarah as the mother of the dead infant, what did the Vancouver Police Department do? Well, they interviewed Sarah Jee-Wah Leung and then … let her go. The death was ruled as “suspicious” and it certainly was … a newborn baby, frozen in a waste bag. No charges were laid. At the end of the day, there it sat.
Asked at the time by a reporter about the whole deal, you know, now that they knew the identity of the mother, Sarah Leung, what was the next step? The police spokesperson stated that the mother was “getting the help she needs,” and basically that was it. Sarah must have got some sort of “get-out-of-jail-free” card that she used. And yes, Sarah did get help, but I suppose a basic sex talk would have been in order as well as a pep talk on why she shouldn’t kill helpless infants.
And her parents? After Sarah Leung dragged them through this, she must now realize how much her parents care because Derick and Maggy loved Sarah enough to stand by her horrific and selfish decision. Since actions speak louder than words, Sarah’s future actions would almost certainly reflect this profound new insight. Or so one would think.
But no. You see, whilst being fed through the Canadian system of injustice, it seems the police did not tell Sarah Leung that the whole reason the dead infant was being investigated was because women do not normally conceal their pregnancy, go to term, give birth in secret and then murder the baby. That just isn’t the way things are done – it’s wrong and against the law. Even in Canada.
The cops probably didn’t think that they had to spell it out for Sarah Leung, but it turns out that they should have. If the social workers had given her the sex talk (boy + girl = baby), if the cops had shared the “don’t-kill-helpless-infants” speech, if her parents had asked her why she felt compelled to hide her pregnancy and dispose of the infant, if the help offered Sarah had explored any of these areas – Hell, if ANY of these “IFs” had been addressed, then the police would not have had to come back to the neighborhood to look for another dead infant.
That’s right – again. Yes, our little Sarah Leung did it all again and murdered baby #2.
Let’s see, the remains of the male infant born on April 2nd, 2009, were collected and ascertained to belong to Sarah Leung and her boyfriend, Anson Lee. The police were called back AGAIN on March 29, 2010, regarding information they received about another birth. This infant’s body was never found, but Sarah admitted that she had given birth and disposed of the baby in the landfill.
Again, an infant tossed away like so much trash – this time Sarah Leung made sure she put it in the garbage. After realizing that they would have to search a large dump in Delta, B.C. three weeks after the disposal, the police announced that they would not go ahead with their search for the remains. The male infant born on March 7th, 2010, is listed as missing and presumed dead.
The “Thinking-like-Einstein” award goes to Sarah Jee-Wah Leung. Interviewed by the cops *again*, investigated *again*, identified as the mother of a murdered infant *again*, and she verified that she had done the crime *again* — except this time, Sarah has been formally charged with a crime.
And the charge isn’t the more usual one of infanticide that Crown prosecutors like to hang on mothers who kill their offspring. For Sarah Jee-Wah Leung, it is a charge of second-degree murder – two counts! Judge Frances Howard ordered her to be held in custody on the charges.
It is noteworthy that no one from Leung’s family was present for this court appearance. Of course, that didn’t prevent the arch-liberals of the media brigade from putting their spin on her case. Dewy eyed reporters portrayed her as this helpless little waif being assaulted by the male-dominated justice system for an itsy-bitsy crime.
As in this reporter’s description:
“a slight young woman …pale but composed…appearing diminutive and much younger than her age…” [She’s 24.]
Try this on for pathos:
“…Leung looked timid and frightened during her brief appearance …. barely tall enough to see over the bar in the prisoner’s dock. Her eyes were puffy….”
I can hear the violins in the background. She’s only charged with murdering her infants – twice.
In Canada, mothers murdering their infants usually get charged with infanticide, the maximum sentence is five years; it differs from the charge of murder, covered in Section 237, and it considers and factors in the mother’s physical and mental health after giving birth. The penalty for murder can be life in prison; in Canada, that usually means twenty-five years.
The prosecutor has to prove that the killing is intentional for both infanticide and murder. That is easy enough to do. Infanticide, however, is different from a murder charge in that it is the disturbance of the mind resulting from giving birth or lactation that is considered responsible for the action of killing – believe it or not.
In Leung’s case, Sarah was charged with second-degree murder. It is unlikely that she would have been charged with anything more than infanticide if she had murdered just the first infant. As she is charged with murder, it means that the Crown Counsel believes that the circumstances warrant a charge of murder versus infanticide. With the traditional reluctance to prosecute women on murder charges, we can assume that the evidence is strongly in support of the murder charge and its requirements. Of course, the publication ban will seal the details until the trial is held.
Crown Counsel has charged Sarah Leung in the deaths of her two infant sons with two counts of second-degree murder and this means Sarah faces a life sentence (or twenty-five years) versus a maximum penalty of five years (infanticide).
The babies are referred to as “infant child No. 1″, a full-term baby born on April 2nd, 2009, found wrapped in a plastic bag behind the home of Leung’s parents home on Charles Street in East Vancouver, and “infant child No. 2″. The body of her second son has never been found due to the time elapsed between the home birth on March 7th, 2010, and police receiving an anonymous tip on March 29th, 2010.
Sarah Jee-Wah Leung has been released on $200,000 bail and must meet all seventeen conditions of her bail. Based on the murder charges levelled at her in Vancouver Provincial Court, Sarah made her bail application before British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Bill Smart at Vancouver Supreme Court. Justice Smart approved her lawyer’s request for a publication ban, but the judge also decided that Sarah needed to have the situation hammered home, and that while Sarah was out on bail she should not take the opportunity to grow another child to dispose of. Some of the rather unusual bail conditions Sarah must meet are as follows:
~ take all reasonable steps to ensure that you do not become pregnant;
~ must make an appointment with a doctor within a week of release from prison to determine whether or not you are pregnant;
~ if pregnant, must return to this court prior to July 9, 2010, to review these conditions;
~ if not pregnant, must discuss with doctor birth control options and use a method of birth control recommended and prescribed by doctor;
~ provide doctor with written consent to disclose to the bail supervisor any information concerning pregnancy status, what birth control methods prescribed and whether the methods are being used;
~ under the direction of bail supervisor, must visit doctor at least once every four weeks to obtain a pregnancy test;
~ if at any time you become pregnant, must return to this court within seven days for a review of these conditions;
~ must reside with parents Derick and Maggy Leung, surrender your passport and remain in the province of British Columbia;
~ must not leave the province without the permission of the court;
~ parents Derick and Maggy Leung are to each provide a $100,000 surety, for a total surety of $200,000;
~ unless and until this court changes this condition, you shall not have sexual intercourse with anyone;
~ unless and until this court changes this condition, you shall not be in the presence of Anson Lee (Leung’s boyfriend) at any time unless in the presence of at least one other adult person.
Bail conditions directing the accused to abstain from sex isn’t new or unheard of in Canadian juris prudence. Several HIV positive criminally-inclined individuals have had to have such conditions imposed, but this is the first time a Canadian citizen has been told not to have sex because they are likely to murder their offspring. Defense weasels have been decrying the conditions as an infringement of civil liberties.
When you look at what she has done and admitted to, it is very sad that she has to have it spelled out in a legal document – one would think Sarah Jee-Wah Leung could have worked that out for herself. And since Sarah was lucky enough to have the police just walk away the first time, she shouldn’t have pressed her luck.
The police have stressed that the Leung family and Anson Lee have all been cleared of knowledge of and complicity in Sarah’s actions with her pregnancies and the infants. Apparently, everyone was unaware both times. OK, you can (maybe) sort of sell that story once, but after the first time it happened and all the broo-haha that followed, you would think that maybe SOME-one would have had taken the time to have a little sit-down and chat with Sarah, right? But maybe it’s a cultural thing I don’t understand.
Maybe Derick and Maggy Leung thought that Sarah wouldn’t do the same thing again. Maybe – in their heart of hearts – they believe that Sarah Jee-Wah Leung is as crazy as a bed bug. Whatever the case, unlike most families of criminal-types, the Leungs are keeping quiet for which, I’m sure, Sarah’s defense attorney, James Bahen, is thankful.
As for Anson Lee, Sarah’s boyfriend, he’s still her swain. I don’t understand that either. He’s been publicly named in a legal document and cannot be alone with Sarah unless a third party is present. How romantic is that? And she’s charged with murdering his offspring – twice. Wouldn’t that sort of say something about you as a potential life mate?
The publication ban has lead to wild speculation in the area and neighbors are quickly dividing into two camps with regards to the whole scandal. There are those who feel that it is a horror and abomination, like Costantino Distasio, who feels it is “… terrible for the kids. You are not supposed to go like a dog..,” and Todd Stojcic, who said it was “Horrible!…surreal….[and he is] totally shocked.”
These people believe she did it (she has confessed) and then there are those who think that there were extenuating circumstances.
Infant number one was conclusively linked to Sarah Jee-Wah Leung. Infant number two was known to have been delivered alive at home and that Sarah was the mother. Sarah herself cooperated with the police in their investigations. The police knew about the landfill being the body dump site as Sarah told them.
After the discovery of the first dead infant, no one can claim that they didn’t know Sarah felt she had to (or that she could) hide her pregnancy, give birth in secret and dispatch the newborn. So, my reply to the people quick to say, ‘Don’t judge’ is – stuff it.
There is plenty of blame and guilt to go around. Everyone here is culpable. The cops for not arresting her the first time and nailing the message home, the social workers for not explaining the basic facts of life to Sarah, her boyfriend for not using a rubber, her family for not caring enough to ask questions, and – hell yes!! – especially Sarah Jee-Wah Leung for deciding the best action wasn’t birth control or abstinence, adoption or abortion, but to grow a helpless human infant and kill it.
And who’s to say that these are the first two infants to meet their untimely demise? As someone pointed out, Sarah Jee-Wah Leung is 24 years old. Even assuming that Sarah became sexually active at the late age of 16, the potential for creation is eight years. Viewed in this fashion, that works out to eight infants who may have met with the fate these two boys did. Do we know for sure they never existed?
The investigation was tough for detectives to deal with. Vancouver police Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke stressed that “Few incidents are more tragic than the death of a child. When the death is allegedly at the hands of the mother, it’s unimaginable. When it’s two children, it’s incomprehensible.”
And it is incomprehensible. What reason or motive could someone have? For women who are desperate to conceive and cannot, Sarah Jee-Wah Leung’s story must rub raw upon the soul. And as bad as it is to know that it happened once, how maddening can it be to hear it happened twice? As for Sarah’s criminal case, it will probably end up being plea bargained down to something like a suspended sentence or probation – this is, after all, Canada, the land of the terminally liberal.
Since it appears that the whole issue of birth control is obviously too complex for Sarah Jee-Wah Leung to grasp, and a healthy woman can give birth every nine months, there are potentially close to two dozen infants that run the risk of being victims. Therefore, I’m hoping that they can make it a condition of any sentence Sarah receives that she has a hysterectomy.
That would work.
Will We See Sarah Jee-Wah Leung In Hell?
- Yes (88%, 283 Votes)
- No (12%, 39 Votes)
Total Voters: 322
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