Toronto toddler who died after breakfast at sleepover ate poisoned cereal, police say

TORONTO — A 45-year-old man has been charged in connection with the death of a three-year-old Toronto girl who police say ingested a controlled substance in breakfast cereal.

An investigation into the death was launched on March 7. According to police, a man placed a controlled substance, which he obtained from his place of employment, into a children’s breakfast cereal.

During a sleepover, two children consumed the cereal. They were both rushed to the hospital as a result.

Police did not specify what controlled substance was used.

Police say one of the children died in hospital “due to the consumption of the cereal,” while the other child recovered after a lengthy hospital stay.

Maurine Mirembe told CTV News Toronto in early March that her daughter, Bernice Nantanda Wamala, was having a sleep over with a friend at a Scarborough apartment unit in the same building where they lived. The next morning she received a call from the friend’s mother saying that Bernice was vomiting and having some type of reaction following breakfast.

“When I went upstairs, I found Bernice laying in a chair,” Mirembe said at the time, adding that her daughter was barely breathing. “She was so weak and when I checked her mouth it was grey.”

“I even squeezed her middle finger to see if the blood was moving, but nothing.”

Bernice Nantanda Wamala

Mirembe said that the friend’s mother called 911, but the operator put them in contact with a Telehealth Ontario nurse who told them to take Bernice to the closest hospital.

The child was brought to Michael Garron Hospital and placed on oxygen. After numerous tests and resuscitation attempts by the doctors, Mirembe said her daughter was taken off life support.

Bernice was pronounced dead exactly one week after her third birthday.

In a news release issued Monday, police said that a suspect identified as Toronto resident Francis Ngugi had been taken into custody in connection with the investigation.

He has been charged with two counts of administering a noxious substance to endanger life, two counts of unlawfully causing bodily harm and criminal negligence causing death.

Police did not say if the suspect knew or had any relation with the children or the families involved.

The charges have not been proven in court.

With files from CTV News Toronto’s Sean Davidson

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