‘Ottawa’ ‘An Angel … Escaped from Your Hell,’ tortured boy’s aunt Rips into ex-Mountie at Sentencing Hearing
In a haunting victim-impact statement at the sentencing of the disgraced former Mountie who starved and tortured his 11-year-old son in a darkened Kanata basement, the boy’s aunt stood in court Wednesday and told him: “An angel … escaped from your hell.”
“These are our family’s last words to you. … Our pain is deep and lasting,” she told a hushed courtroom. “We hope one day he will see his physical scars as a testament to his strength.”
“We pray that one day he will truly feel worthy and loved and know that he has value. This has been an achingly long, gut-wrenching journey but, in the end, a battered, courageous little boy with nothing but his will to live, freed himself from your dungeon. An angel, not Satan, escaped from your hell. And a final, sad irony is that you ended up being the criminal you accused him of being,” she said.
The father, a former RCMP counter-terrorism officer, 45, was convicted in November of assault, sexual assault, forcible confinement and failing to provide the necessities of life by Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger.
During the trial, which began in September 2015, it was revealed the man videotaped his naked and shackled son while he inflicted disturbing, religious-themed interrogations, demanding the emaciated boy repent and screaming he would ”weep blood” for his so-called sins.
At one point, the ex-Mountie enlisted a Roman Catholic priest to perform an exorcism.
In one of the videos that reduced defence lawyers and police to tears at trial, the tiny, frightened boy begged: “I want my family back.”
The boy spent the last month of his captivity trying to escape the horrors of the basement, where he was chained to a post as he slept and forced to use a slop bucket for a toilet while the rest of his family went about their routines upstairs.
That he managed to loosen his chains and escape is what led to the child-abuse case against his father and stepmother, 37, who was also found guilty in November on less severe charges of assault with a weapon (wooden spoon) and failing to provide the necessities of life.
The boy testified at trial about Feb. 12, 2013, the day he escaped.
“I was terrified, hungry and thirsty. I couldn’t take it anymore. My entertainment was (staring at) a wall and I was just getting hurt and burned. I was scared to death. … I thought he was going to kill me.”
Justice Maranger heaped praise on the terrorized boy, who had to relive the horror as he testified across three days at trial.
“That a parent could do the things that were done (to the boy) was gut-wrenching. That being said, however, the fact that this half-starved, burned and battered 11-year-old could somehow summon the strength to escape his cruel captivity and later seemingly rise above it, is a testament to the indomitability of the human spirit,” the judge told court.
Since it was never in question that the boy had been abused, the father mounted a post-traumatic stress disorder defence during the trial.
The Mountie testified in his own defence at trial, and presented himself as a victim, speaking for hours about his fragile state of mind.
He detailed the troubles of his own childhood in war-torn Lebanon. He talked about dead bodies, bombs and the day he was raped by a teacher. He spoke of “extreme nightmares” from his youth, his troubled career in the RCMP and how a so-called problem child was the last thing he needed.
The Mountie tried to explain that he thought his boy was possessed and he feared he’d grow up to be a sexual predator.
“Me and my son were at war. … I had an enemy in front of me.”
He claimed that he didn’t know his actions were wrong.
Court heard from a psychiatrist hired by the defence. Dr. Helen Ward testified that the ex-Mountie suffered from “chronic and severe” PTSD and narcissism. The expert witness who examined him told court he did not express remorse and she tried to explain, not excuse his horrific acts.
The Mountie saw his son as possessed and wild, though he wasn’t, by everyone else’s accounts, from teachers to doctors to neighbours and family.
The doctor told court that his inability to control his son and his problems at work left him overwhelmed by it all.
“He desperately wants his son to be different than he perceived him to be,” Ward told court.
There is a publication ban on the names of the child abusers to protect the identity of the boy.
The sentencing hearing is expected to continue Thursday at the Elgin Street courthouse.