City couple jailed over malnourished child
Pair unable to explain what led to the shocking condition of the five-year-old
In sentencing a Regina couple who left a young boy malnourished and locked in a bedroom, a judge noted the pair appeared “somewhat bewildered as to what happened and why.”
Because of that, Queen’s Bench Justice Ellen Gunn said there are no answers as to what led to the condition of the woman’s young son, discovered by police in that bedroom.
“All of this is inexplicable and counsel were unable to provide any real answers,” Gunn said.
Neither accused had a previous criminal record when, last week, they pleaded guilty to unlawfully causing bodily harm, acknowledging they failed to provide the necessaries of life to the then-fiveyear-old boy. The couple — who cannot be named under a courtimposed publication ban intended to protect the child’s identity — returned to court on Thursday for sentencing.
As jointly requested by Crown and defence counsel, Gunn handed down a two-year federal prison sentence to the 27-year-old woman and an 18-month jail term to the 30-year-old man.
While court heard the two plan on taking advantage of programming to help address whatever issues might have led to this, there are currently few, if any, answers.
“That’s always the question that people have the most difficulty with is why did this happen,” Jeff Deagle, defence lawyer for the husband, told reporters after court. “And those answers generally don’t appear right now. I think they’re going to appear now over time when they focus on why this happened and on themselves. I think then they’ll find out why they came to be in this situation. But I think from their perspective right now, they don’t understand why ... And it’s often the question that’s never answered.”
Prior to accepting pleas from the couple, Gunn had to first make certain they were accepting responsibility. Both had made comments in pre-sentence reports questioning the charges, the husband having described it as “unfair,” while the wife expressed denial she’d done anything wrong.
Both, during their last court appearance, openly acknowledged guilt when questioned by Gunn.
Crown prosecutor Kim Jones said the incident came to light when, on April 13, 2015, police responded to a complaint of domestic violence at the couple’s home. That’s when they found the boy in a locked bedroom.
Court heard the child was very thin with bones protruding along his back. He and his baby brother (who was reportedly in good health) were taken to hospital where the lethargic older boy had difficulty standing and proved both malnourished and dehydrated. While there were no signs of physical abuse, he weighed just 12 kilograms and was found to be in the 0.1 to three percentile of acceptable weight.
The boy’s mother claimed — including to her husband, the boy’s stepfather — that she’d taken him to specialists for what she described as a problem with high metabolism and hypoglycemia, but the investigation revealed the boy hadn’t been to a doctor since July 2013.
Gunn noted the boy was placed into care and that his foster mother — who described the boy as still struggling but improving in some areas — is moving toward adopting him.
Deagle said the couple’s other two children were apprehended by Social Services and are still in the system.