Judge’s decision in horrific child abuse case set for May 14
Editor’s note: this story contains graphic content.
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.