OTTAWA — Facing a possible 23 years behind bars, a former Mountie who tortured and starved his young son in the basement of the family’s suburban Ottawa home apologized Thursday for being “a monster.”
The 45-year-old man, who cannot be identified under a court order to protect his son’s identity, delivered the apology at the close of his sentencing hearing, telling the boy he would gladly “lay down (his) life” if it meant he could heal his son’s physical and emotional scars.
“I’m ashamed and very sorry for having been a monster to you,” the former counter-terrorism officer said in Ontario Superior Court, crying as he read from the prepared statement.
“I humbly and sincerely want to say I’m sorry for my cruel and barbaric behaviour,” he said, adding that he wasn’t issuing the apology to sound “heroic.”
“I have caused much evil, and only God knows how I regret my horrible crimes.”
The boy, who is now 15 and living “in a better place,” according to his maternal family, was not in the courtroom to hear his father’s apology. Family members who were there, however, dismissed the show of remorse as “crocodile tears.”
Crown prosecutors argued Thursday the former Mountie should spend a cumulative 23 years in prison for inflicting “horrific” abuse on his son.
The injuries the man inflicted on the boy, including when he burned his son’s genitals with a barbecue lighter, were of the worst magnitude and such a sentence would be in step with what society demands, Crown prosecutor Marie Dufort told the court, noting that Parliament has recently strengthened sentencing provisions for child abuse, particularly when it involves sexual offences.
The conviction on the sexual assault causing bodily harm charge alone carries a minimum five year sentence.
“The horrors of this case … demand a sentence at the high end of the spectrum,” Dufort told Justice Robert Maranger, who in November found the man guilty of aggravated assault, sexual assault causing bodily harm, forcible confinement and failing to provide the necessaries of life.
The man was charged shortly after the emaciated and injured 11-year-old was found wandering his west Ottawa neighbourhood in search of water after escaping his home in February 2013.
During the trial, the court was shown several videos, found on the father’s phone, of the boy naked, crying and restrained in the basement of his family’s home.
The boy looked gaunt, with his ribs clearly visible.
“The images of those recordings are seared in our minds,” Dufort told the court, adding that the only reason the abuse stopped was because the boy escaped.
“If that treatment would have continued he would have died,” she said.
The man’s wife, the boy’s adoptive mother, was found guilty of assault with a weapon and failing to provide the necessaries of life and was given a three-year sentence.
Defence lawyer Robert Carew argued the former Mountie should receive a sentence of between five and seven years. He cited several recent cases involving similar offences, including a 2005 case in Newfoundland where a 41-year-old man was convicted of severely abusing his two daughters. In that case, the children had suffered broken bones and confinement over several years and the father was sentenced to six years.
Carew dismissed the prospect of a 23-year sentence, arguing that such lengthy terms of incarceration are normally reserved for homicides.
“This case is not on that scale,” he said.
Court heard Wednesday from two psychiatrists who testified that the father suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and chronic depression.
But Dufort said Thursday the man’s PTSD could not be used to excuse the torture he inflicted on his son. Instead, she argued, the abuse he dished out was likely more as a result of his narcissistic character.
The boy’s maternal aunt earlier read a victim impact statement, calling the prosecution of her nephew’s father and stepmother a “gut-wrenching” and “achingly long journey.”
Nothing can ever change what he did, the man said before being removed in ankle chains from the courtroom Thursday. But he told the court he hoped his son will one day forgive him.
“I cannot undo what I have done, but I can hope that my sincere apology will help my son find closure and peace.”
Justice Maranger said he will hand down a sentence April 12.
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