Babysitter charged after toddler left alone in fire

A 49-year-old woman has been formally charged in connection with an apartment fire in the east end earlier this week which forced firefighters to stage a dramatic rescue of an 18-month-old baby.

Josee Milot was babysitting the toddler at the time, but police believe she was not in the Dezery St. apartment at the time the fire broke out early Thursday morning.

On Friday, she was charged with negligent arson, failure to provide the necessities of life and child abandonment. She pleaded not guilty and will be held until she returns to court for a bail hearing on Tuesday.

Neighbors described Milot as a drug abuser who used crack cocaine almost daily. Police investigators say Milot was so intoxicated that it took investigators nearly a full day before they could begin to speak with her.

Milot has a long history of drug, prostitution and other criminal offences.

The child's mother was a neighbor of Milot's. She says she thought she was clean when she entrusted her daughter to her while she visited friends in Toronto. She told a local radio station that Milot babysat for her in the past, without any problems.

The child suffered smoke inhalation during the fire, but is out of hospital and out of danger.