Calgary couple in orphan abuse case await verdict

Weapons included wooden spoons, needles and barbecue forks

CALGARY — A couple accused of abusing their two nieces and a nephew with implements that included wooden spoons, needles and barbecue forks are to learn their fate in June.

The children’s parents were killed in a car crash in the United States in 2006 and the kids, who were all under 10, were adopted by their maternal aunt and uncle, who moved them to Calgary.

The two girls and one boy had also been in the crash, but police pulled them from the fiery wreck.

“Unbeknownst to them or anyone in the family, a new ordeal began,” Crown prosecutor William Tran told court last month in his opening statement.

The aunt and uncle, who cannot be identified because of a publication ban, are accused of assault with a weapon and other abuse-related charges.

The trial heard that the children were 13, seven and six when the middle sister showed up at school in 2011 with a bruised and swollen face.

A counsellor questioned the child, who Tran said ”gave detailed recollection of abuse” that she and her siblings had suffered for years.

Court heard from all three children who testified that they were punished with punches, kicks and slaps to the head and body and were placed in cold showers.

“The aunt and uncle would use various utensils from the home, including wooden spoons, belts, electrical cords, needles, dish soap and barbecue forks to carry out the torture,” said Tran.

The prosecution also told court the couple would keep the kids home from school and forced them to wear long-sleeved shirts to hide their injuries.

The oldest child, in an interview with police, said her aunt would assault her often using a large wooden stick.

“She’d tell me to open my mouth and then she put it inside my mouth and she would try to get it as deep in as she could,” she said.

“Sometimes she’d make me bleed from my mouth.”

She said the abuse was also directed at her siblings.

“When either my brother and sister or me would get in trouble, sometimes she’d tell our uncle to hit us like on the back of our feet.”

The sister, now a young woman, also said her aunt burned her tongue with a lighter.

“She would use those and she would tell me to stick my tongue out and then she would burn my tongue. That happened around three or four times.”

The defence, which did not call any evidence, has contended the older sister made up the allegations and influenced her younger siblings.

On Tuesday, Justice Sandy Park ruled that the statements made by the children to police can be admitted as evidence.

Closing arguments are to be written and provided to Park by May 19. He said he will hand down his verdict on June 13.

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