TORONTO —; A 53-year-old Toronto woman accused of spraying a three-year-old boy with an “acidic substance” at a west-end movie theatre made her first appearance in court today to face the charges against her.
Toronto Police said the boy was allegedly assaulted while waiting in line with his father at the Humber Cinemas Theatre at 2442 Bloor St. W. at about 3:15 p.m. on Saturday.
The woman allegedly sprayed the child on his ears and neck with the substance, before immediately leaving the area. The unknown chemical burned holes in the boy’s clothing and in the carpet of the theatre.
READ MORE: Toronto woman charged after boy, 3, sprayed with ‘acidic substance’ in movie theatre
Alverna Maria Lawrence was arrested and charged on Wednesday after initially being identified as a person of interest in connection with the alleged attack.
After several delays, Lawrence appeared in a Toronto court Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. wearing a thin purple dress and standing barefoot.
Lawrence had initially been charged with assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, weapons dangerous, carrying a concealed weapon and administering a noxious substance. Police added three more charges on Thursday including common nuisance and two counts of property damage.
The accused identified herself as “Maria Lawrence” and had one relative in court with her, a woman who identified herself as Lawrence’s cousin.
The evidence presented in court today and the name of the alleged victim are both protected by publication bans.
Lawrence’s lawyers asked the court for more time to review the charges against her, so her hearing has been adjourned till Monday. The crown said it is looking to have her remanded into custody.
READ MORE: Suspect sought after boy, 3, sprayed with ‘burning substance’ at movie theatre
Const. Jennifer Sidhu said Lawrence is known to police as someone who has had mental health issues in the past, but added that she has never done anything like this before.
The boy was taken to hospital with minor burns and Sidhu said the substance was identified as “acidic” and is being investigated by a forensics team.
Det. Shawn Elliott said the child is recovering well from the incident and his burns are healing.
He added that the boy’s father works in the construction industry and “stayed calm” when the incident happened, as he had previously taken a course on chemical injuries.
Elliott said the boy’s father conducted first aid, applied water and washed off the chemical substance, preventing further injury to the child.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Toronto police or Crime Stoppers.
With files from Mark Carcasole