A Brampton woman who posed as a registered nurse and administered Botox to three patients will undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment to determine if she is mentally fit to be sentenced.
Shiva Ashkani was in Superior Court on Wednesday for her sentencing hearing after being found guilty last December of eight charges including assaulting three women, one count of aggravated assault, fraud under $5,000 and uttering a threat to one woman.
Ashkani’s advertisement on Kijiji falsely stated she was registered nurse with 13 years of experience working with surgeons and 21 years as a medical cosmetician in Beverly Hills, Vancouver and Toronto providing Botox and collagen filler by syringe.
After a trial, Superior Court Justice Alfred O’Marra found three women experienced various adverse reactions after receiving treatment from Ashkani. “The accused assaulted each of them with a weapon (a syringe), by injecting substances into them through their skin without consent, having fraudulently misrepresented herself as a registered nurse,” O’Marra wrote in his judgment.
Botox is a poison used to reduce facial lines and wrinkles by paralyzing the underlying muscles. It is administered by syringe. The Regulated Health Professions Act specifies that only a regulated health professional may administer a substance by injection, though a doctor can delegate the task to a registered nurse.
Ashkani’s mental fitness was not an issue at the trial. But defence lawyer Maureen Addie, who was not the trial lawyer and has been appointed by the court to represent Ashkani, asked that a forensic psychiatrist meet and evaluate her prior to the sentencing hearing.
Dr. Derek Pallandi had a lengthy meeting with Ashkani in August. He prepared a report — submitted to the court — raising concerns about her mental state and recommended she undergo a 30-day in-patient assessment.
After watching Ashkani act “in totally inappropriate ways” in court, Pallandi testified his concerns were still valid.
Before the hearing began, Ashkani muttered loudly, suggested a television reporter could benefit from plastic surgery and ignored Addie’s warning to stop talking.
“That causes me very, very significant concerns about her core ability to appreciate the nature and object of the proceedings, and to instruct counsel in an appropriate fashion,” the physician testified.
Given the “gravity” of the potential penalty she faces, it would be prudent to have her fitness re-evaluated “to make sure she is quite, very clearly and durably fit to face the sentencing that she’s facing,” he said.
Crown attorney Cheryl Blondell asked Pallandi if it is possible Ashkani was “malingering.”
“Is it a possibility? Yes, is it a likelihood, no, it’s a very low likelihood,” Pallandi said. He told court Ashkani has a mental health history and has been prescribed medication for bipolar disorder.
He added that “unfitness, of course, does not confer any advantage to anything, it simply delays (the) legal process.”
Addie said if Ashkani is found unfit, there’s a provision in the Criminal Code that allows a judge to order a person to receive treatment so he or she can engage in the legal process.
Addie added it is very unusual to raise the question of mental fitness between a finding of guilt and sentencing.
O’Marra adjourned the case until next week to give Addie time to find a mental health facility that can conduct the evaluation. When that’s finalized, O’Marra said he will make the assessment order.
Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy