City cou­ple jailed over mal­nour­ished child

Pair un­able to ex­plain what led to the shock­ing con­di­tion of the five-year-old

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - HEATHER POLISCHUK hpolis­chuk@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/LPHeatherP

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.

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