Mother-in-law of two child abuse victims sentenced to 18 years in prison

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Step-mother of two child abuse victims gets 18 years in prison

The Main Entrance to the Toronto Courthouse in Downtown

In Toronto, a woman has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for the abuse she inflicted on her partner's two sons since they arrived in Canada over six years ago. The Crown had spoken of a case of extraordinary torture carried out against the two children, who were only 10 and 13 years old at the time.

In her sentencing, Ontario Superior Court Judge Kelly Byrne said this is not a case of child abuse, but child torture. She identified many aggravating factors in this case.

Caution : reading this article may shock some readers.

She cited in particular the gravity and barbaric nature of the crimes, the age and vulnerability of the victims, the extent of their physical and psychological injuries, and the loss of trust in their beautiful -mother.

These teenagers will have to live with deep emotional and physical trauma for the rest of their lives, she continues, recalling that one of them has attempted to take his own life.

The judge also praised their optimism and their determination to get out of it. Their scars will nevertheless always be there to remind them of a past that they will not be able to forget, she underlined.

On the other hand, she only retained very few mitigating factors other than that Sofia* is a workaholic, learned English while immigrating to Canada, where she found a job as a personal support worker.

She therefore gave the woman of Mexican origin concurrent and consecutive sentences depending on the nature of the 10 charges of which she was convicted.

* Radio-Canada chose not to identify the parents of the victims to comply with a publication ban regarding the identity of the two children. The names of parents and minors have additionally been changed to make this article easier to understand.

By virtue of the time that Sofia has spent in preventive detention, it is remains 16 years and 9 months to serve in prison.

She will be prohibited from communicating with the victims, during and after her detention, and from possessing a weapon for ten years.

The 38-year-old Canadian, on the other hand, will be able to communicate with his other minor children, but under the supervision of the Catholic Children's Aid Society.

In conclusion, the judge said she hopes one day that Sofia will express remorse in detention for what she has done, in order to find the path to social reintegration, which the magistrate has for the moment doubted. /p>

The Crown demanded an exemplary sentence of 20 years in prison against Diego* and Liam*'s mother-in-law and 7 years against their father.

Prosecutors were talking about deterring and exposing violence against children in society.

Sofia's defense was asking 5 to 12 years and the defense of Gabriel*, a sentence of 7 years like the Crown (this is a common request, editor's note).

The judge nevertheless refused yesterday the common position of the two parties on the subject of Gabriel, so that the individual will have to return to court in mid-November to find out the date of the ;hearing on new sentencing submissions from both parties.

Judge Kelly Byrne had previously indicated that she preferred to sentence Sofia first, so Gabriel could not be sentenced until 2023.

As of September 2021, the children's biological father, Gabriel, pleaded guilty to 10 charges, including assault with a weapon and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

His partner Sofia had preferred the trial route, at the end of which she was found guilty in May 2022 of the same 10 charges.

During the hearing on At the couple's sentencing in July, the Crown had mentioned a campaign of torture undertaken against the two children and it had read the statements of the two minors to the court.

Brothers Diego and Liam's ordeal began in August 2016. That year, their father Gabriel moved with them from Mexico to Toronto to live with his new wife and two children from a previous relationship.

Court documents show that the two boys began to be seriously abused by their father and stepmother shortly after arriving in Canada.

All contact was cut off with their grandmother, aunt and uncle in Ontario, as well as with their mother, who remained in Mexico.

It says both boys endured frequent punishments, which were often carried out by their father at the direction of their stepmother, although Sofia also assaulted them herself, as her trial showed. .

In her verdict, the judge had also noted that Gabriel and Sofia were both responsible for the abuse.

The two young boys were beaten, burned, sleep-deprived, starved and hung upside down in the basement of their Toronto home during periods of summer 2016 to June 2019.

One ​​of the two victims was finally able to escape parental supervision to alert the authorities.

The family home s' quickly turned into hell, according to young Liam, who testified at his stepmother's trial.

Sofia had been found guilty at the end of her trial, while her spouse had pleaded guilty of the same 10 charges as she was eight months earlier.

The trial revealed that Diego and Liam were beaten with a belt and a metal spoon , that they had their fingers squeezed with pliers and their bodies slashed with kitchen knives.

On Halloween in 2018, Liam was forced to immerse his feet in boiling water, which left him with burns and scars that eventually required plastic surgery.

The boys lost a significant amount of weight, because their food was restricted, while Sofia's biological children ate their fill.

Sofia had a child with Gabriel and then another with a third man after he was released on bail. The last two children are under the age of 5.

Diego and Liam were otherwise only allowed to sleep when Sofia was working night shifts or when they had his permission.

Sofia was always watching them with two surveillance cameras, especially in the kitchen where the fridge was locked.

Another punishment was to hang the boys, usually by the ankles, from ceiling beams in the basement of the residence for several hours at a time. This ordeal lasted six months, according to the Crown.

The Sentencing Hearing at inflict on Gabriel and Sophia was held jointly during the summer of 2022 in Toronto.

In his statement to the court, Diego wrote in July about his stepmother Sofia: We couldn't be like other brothers, we were partners in survival.

It allowed us to be open with each other, but we were still in a state of survival, he explained.< /p>

At the time, I was really scared…it would be more accurate to say I was scared to be home, Liam had written in his statement. I was even afraid of people you should never be afraid of, he continued.

Although the Catholic Children's Aid Society was repeatedly informed of the possibility of violence in the family home, investigations failed to save the two brothers.

However, there were many signs that something was wrong with the house over the years.

Teachers and education workers had, for example, noticed injuries on the two boys and evidence of malnutrition, not to mention their inappropriate clothing.

The McMurtry Justice Gardens where Marlene Hilton Moore's “Freedom of Expression” statue stands.

Extended family members wondered how obvious signs of trauma could not be enough to force the intervention of an agency meant to protect children.

The documents nevertheless state that Sofia was able to explain any injuries to others and that she made Diego and Liam repeat verbatim what she told them to tell the staff of the hospital. school or doctors.

Everything was scripted, she told me what to say or not to say, Diego said in his statement to the court.

< p class="e-p">One ​​evening in June 2019, after an altercation with Sofia for being hanged in the basement, Liam fled the residence and hid under a parked car until x27;5 o'clock in the morning.

He then went to a library, where he was able to connect with his mother on Facebook in Mexico.

The latter then alerted her own mother in Ontario, who in turn notified the police. His brother Diego was later rescued.

The Toronto police had opened a criminal investigation immediately after being alerted by the grandmother of the two victims.

The two young people now live with their grandmother in Ontario, who has said he endured a rollercoaster of emotions over the treatment of his grandchildren.

I lost faith in humanity, a- she said in her statement about the impact the abuse against Diego and Liam had on her life.

I can't understand how a human being can do this to other human beings, especially children, she added.

At the& #x27;sentencing hearing regarding Gabriel, Crown and defense argued that Sofia was the architect of this campaign of torture and that she pressured her spouse to commit much of the violence.

Only Gabriel agreed to speak in court when the judge asked if he had anything to add.

I was scared, but I want to apologize to my sons for the harm I caused them, which I should never have done, he had declared in Spanish by l& #x27;intermediary of an interpreter.

With information from CBC

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