The two Acton women charged with failing to provide the necessities of life after their 97-yearold relative was found in a sweltering SUV in a mall parking lot last July both pleaded not guilty in Burlington court Thursday. Bonnie Bouclair, 60, and her daughter Kimberly Bouclair, 36, were charged after their mother/grandmother Phyllis Arnott was found in the vehicle by passersby at Burlington's SmartCentres plaza July 15. Arnott has since died. The Acton woman died in Georgetown Hospital Feb. 11. Her death was not related to the incident last summer. At the first day of the women's trial, court heard from Burlington resident Mary Black who said she and family members were walking to their car after having lunch at Kelsey's Restaurant at the plaza when they saw Arnott in the back of the SUV near their car. Black said Arnott "seemed to be in distress." "It was extremely hot, it was one of the hottest days of the summer," said Black. "She was in the back seat leaning over the driver's seat to the bit of window that was open," said Black. Black said she guessed the window was open approximately five inches, at which point Bonnie
leaned over in court and said something to her daughter Kimberly. Bonnie repeated that behaviour a number of times throughout the day. Black said Arnott told them she needed to go to the bathroom. "She obviously seemed upset and very weak," said Black. She said Arnott was not capable of getting out of the vehicle on her own, and was "unable to communicate with us." They wanted to help, but were unsure what to do. She said the SUV's doors were locked and they didn't want to set off the alarm. They decided to go back to Kelsey's to see if they could find the owner of the SUV, but had no luck. She said her son and daughterin-law had gone to Wal-Mart to see if the owner was there, and an announcement was made over the public address system. They returned to the SUV and a Kelsey's employee came out of the restaurant, Black said, and was able to reach in and open the door of the vehicle. He provided Arnott with water. "She downed the bottle of water immediately," Black said. She believed they had provided her with three bottles. A 911 call was then made. Black estimated about an hour had
passed since they first saw Arnott to Bouclairs returned to the SUV.
Steven Darroch, lawyer for the Bouclairs, asked Black if Arnott had complained to them about the heat. "She had a very blank look on her face," said Black.
Darroch also asked if they had asked Arnott to open the doors of the SUV.
"It didn't look like she could manage on her own," said Black.
He also stressed that Arnott had never said she wanted to be removed from the vehicle and that they didn't know what her condition was before they first saw her.
"Because she was old and frail you concluded she wasn't able to manage on her own," said Darroch.
Black's son Dan described Arnott as "totally out of it" and "very confused."
He said when they were leaving to go home from the plaza parking lot Bonnie confronted them through the window of their car.
"’Are you the ones who called (emergency services)? You should mind your own business,'" Dan stated Bonnie said to them.
He estimated 45 minutes had passed since they noticed Arnott, and when the Bouclairs returned to their SUV. When pressed by Darroch, he said it could have
been less than 45 minutes, but more when the than 30.
Paramedics were the first to respond.
EMS officer Dave Parsons said Arnott appeared to be "dehydrated and a little bit confused" when they arrived.
Parsons said Arnott didn't want to go to the hospital but they wanted to take her for her own safety.
Darroch asked if they were cautious when making a decision on whether to take a patient to hospital. Parsons agreed they were more likely to err on the side of caution.
EMS officer Ryan Kenti said there was a "decreased level of response" from Arnott when they asked her more specific questions.
He said she was wearing a fleece tracksuit and long thermal underwear.
Kenti said Arnott's blood pressure was slightly elevated, and respiration rate slightly fast.
Assistant Crown attorney Jim Coppolino Bouclair asked if Arnott's life was in danger being in the hot vehicle.
"Prolonged heat exposure can jeopardize someone's life," said Kenti. "(In) one hour (you) may start to see changes in her vital signs. The longer you're in the heat the more trouble you're in."
Halton Police Const. Mike Cairns said the "temperature was excruciating" inside the SUV
when he was looking for the ownership. He said police were there 11 minutes before the Bouclairs returned from Wal-Mart pushing a shopping cart. He said Bonnie asked what he was doing in their truck and where her mother was. He said he told her she was being treated for heat exhaustion. Cairns said Bonnie said, "`Oh, she's fine. I left the windows rolled down. You guys are just making a big deal of this.'" He said Bonnie told him to get out of the way and let her see her mother and she would get her out of the ambulance. He said she showed no signs of remorse or regret for her mother being in that situation and she threatened to sue police. "(She said) we should be doing better things like arresting impaired drivers driving through her neighbourhood," said Cairns. Darroch said Bonnie had wanted to speak with her mother and make sure she was okay but Cairns told her not to interfere with what the ambulance attendants were doing. Cairns said he was allowing the paramedics the "professional courtesy" to do their jobs. Darroch asked him if he had been angry. "I wouldn't say I was angry, I was trying to explain to them what they had done wrong. Most people wouldn't leave their dogs in that condition," said Cairns. The trial continues August 10.