Man found guilty of as­sault­ing man, steal­ing from him and tak­ing baby

The Western Star - - NEWS -

For decades, a Toronto man took ad­van­tage of a man with limited in­tel­li­gence, treat­ing him like a ser­vant, tak­ing his dis­abil­ity cheques and even­tu­ally steal­ing his baby in or­der to raise the child as his own, an On­tario judge has found.

On­tario Su­pe­rior Court Jus­tice John McMa­hon found Gary Wil­lett guilty Fri­day of as­sault, theft and ab­duc­tion of a child in a saga that be­gan in the late 1980s.

But he cleared Wil­lett on charges of forcible con­fine­ment and fail­ure to pro­vide the nec­es­saries of life, say­ing he was not con­vinced the man had kept Tim Goldrick cap­tive or de­prived him of care af­ter tak­ing him in.

Wil­lett and his wife, Maria Wil­lett, “sim­ply took ad­van­tage of a man with limited in­tel­li­gence and limited life skills,’’ McMa­hon told a Toronto court. “They took what they wanted.’’

Though Gary Wil­lett claimed he was sim­ply try­ing to help Goldrick and his then-part­ner Bar­bara Ben­nett, he kept the cou­ple around be­cause “there was a def­i­nite fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive to do so,’’ the judge said, not­ing Goldrick’s dis­abil­ity pay­ments brought in roughly $ 700 a month for more than two decades.

McMa­hon said he didn’t be­lieve Wil­lett’s tes­ti­mony that Goldrick and Ben­nett gave their baby away be­cause they felt par­ent­hood would cramp their style, say­ing the Wil­letts would have gone through the proper adop­tion chan­nels if that had been the case, as they did in adopt­ing other chil­dren.

What’s more, he said, Wil­lett main­tained he was the child’s bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther when first con­fronted by po­lice about the al­le­ga­tions.

“There would be no rea­son to hide a le­git­i­mate adop­tion that was fully con­sen­sual,’’ he said.

Goldrick said out­side court he was not happy with the ver­dict but did not elab­o­rate. His now- adult son, Gary Wil­lett Jr., also ex­pressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion and said he hoped to see the el­der Gary Wil­lett be­hind bars.

Gary Wil­lett’s de­fence lawyer said his client was dis­ap­pointed with some of the find­ings.

Goldrick and Ben­nett were home­less when they first met the Wil­letts, who then helped them find a home in their build­ing, court heard. They did so again when they moved on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions, and even­tu­ally took the cou­ple into their own home, court heard.

When Ben­nett went into labour in 1989, she went to the hospi­tal with the Wil­letts, leav­ing Goldrick be­hind, court heard. She used Maria Wil­lett’s health card and the Wil­letts pre­sented them­selves as the child’s bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents, sign­ing doc­u­ments to that ef­fect, court heard.

Ben­nett told the court that she felt pres­sured to give up her child and never dis­cussed the is­sue with her then- part­ner. Goldrick, mean­while, tes­ti­fied that he was never con­sulted and in­stead was told by the Wil­letts that he and Ben­nett would not make suit­able par­ents.

Ben­nett left the home a few years later but Goldrick stayed. The child grew up in the same home as his fa­ther be­liev­ing the Wil­letts were his bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents, court heard.

Goldrick tes­ti­fied dur­ing trial that he was held cap­tive and treated like a ser­vant, threat­ened with be­ing sent to an in­sti­tu­tion if he didn’t com­ply. He also said he was made to turn over his dis­abil­ity cheques and most of the money he made shov­el­ling snow for other res­i­dents.

Others tes­ti­fied that they saw the Wil­letts abuse him ver­bally and phys­i­cally and or­der him to carry out er­rands and chores.

The judge said he be­lieved Goldrick had been “re­peat­edly as­saulted by be­ing punched and kicked by Mr. Wil­lett,’’ but had no ev­i­dence that it led to se­ri­ous in­juries. Nor was he con­vinced that Goldrick was forced to stay with the cou­ple un­til 2012, when his nowadult son and two others took him away.

The de­fence had ar­gued the Wil­letts’ chil­dren and Gary Wil­lett Jr. had col­luded against their par­ents and in­flu­enced Goldrick. De­fence lawyer Sam Gold­stein had also said Ben­nett agreed to let the Wil­letts take her baby and later changed her story be­cause it was eas­ier than ad­mit­ting she had given up her child.

McMa­hon found the Wil­letts’ chil­dren had ex­pressed hos­til­ity to­wards their par­ents and had op­por­tu­nity to taint each other’s tes­ti­mony as well as Goldrick’s, and chose not to rely on their ev­i­dence.

Sen­tenc­ing ar­gu­ments are ex­pected to be heard on March 23.

Maria Wil­lett has pleaded not guilty to sim­i­lar charges but will be tried separately. Gold­stein said any find­ings made in her hus­band’s case would not af­fect her trial.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.