Judge’s de­ci­sion in hor­rific child abuse case set for May 14

Edi­tor’s note: this story con­tains graphic con­tent.

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

The high pro­file trial of a Con­cep­tion Bay North woman ac­cused of hor­rific abuses against her many chil­dren con­cluded on Thurs­day, May 1 at provin­cial court in Har­bour Grace.

The pro­ceed­ings in­cluded a dra­matic turn-of-events as the woman, whose iden­tity is banned from pub­li­ca­tion by court or­der, changed her plea to guilty on five charges of forcible con­fine­ment.

Crown at­tor­ney Lisa Stead and de­fense lawyer Jeff Slade put forth their fi­nal sub­mis­sions to Judge James Walsh dur­ing the two-plus hour long ses­sion, which re­vealed dis­turb­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of ne­glect, abuse and other forms of mal­treat­ment.

The woman is charged with nu­mer­ous counts in­clud­ing as­sault, forcible con­fine­ment and crim­i­nal neg­li­gence caus­ing bod­ily harm. She had pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Stead pro­vided tes­ti­mony from nu­mer­ous chil­dren, who ex­pressed em­pa­thy for their broth­ers and sis­ters.

“They all said, ‘I hate my mother,’” she told the court.

Stead went into great de­tail of the case, telling the court, amongst other hor­rific de­tails, that when the chil­dren went to bed they were no longer al­lowed out un­til the morn­ing.

She would tie rope around the door han­dles, us­ing the nearby banis­ter as a weight to keep them closed. This meant chil­dren were of­ten forced to soil them­selves dur­ing the night and then change. There were also rev­e­la­tions that some of the chil­dren were dan­gled form a stair­case by their limbs, and in some cases dropped to the floor be­low.

“The chil­dren are very clear with how they feel about their mother,” said Stead.

One of the more shock­ing de­tails came out when dis­cussing the charge of cor­rupt­ing chil­dren. It was said in court the woman and her hus­band sub­jected their chil­dren to watch­ing them en­gage in sex­ual ac­tiv­ity.

“The com­mu­nity would find that im­moral,” said Stead.

The case has stoked a great deal of anger in the prov­ince, with reader com­ments to on­line news sites and so­cial me­dia spew­ing dis­gust to­wards the ac­cused and her hus­band, and call­ing for the sever­est pun­ish­ment pos­si­ble from the le­gal sys­tem.

Mean­while, once Stead had con­cluded her sub­mis­sion, Walsh re­moved two of the seven counts of forcible con­fine­ment against the woman.

When Slade be­gan his de­fence, he started by chang­ing the plea on the re­main­ing five forcible con­fine­ment charges from not guilty to guilty.

For the rest of his sub­mis­sion, the lawyer dis­cussed the litany of charges.

“Proof be­yond a rea­son­able doubt in court is the high­est stan­dard we have,” said Slade.

When sub­mis­sions were fin­ished, Walsh ad­journed court.

The mat­ter will be called once again on May 14 at 2 p.m., at which time the judge will ren­der a de­ci­sion on sen­tenc­ing.

A Con­cep­tion Bay North woman ac­cused of hor­rific abuses against her chil­dren is seen leav­ing court in Har­bour Grace on Thurs­day, May 1.

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