A mother in Newfoundland's Conception Bay was sent to prison today after a judge threw the book at her for abusing her children.
The woman, 33, who cannot be named because of a wide-ranging publication ban, has been sentenced to 12 years and 88 days. With time served, the sentence was reduced to 11 years and eight months.
"The facts of this case are appalling," provincial court James Walsh said in a stinging decision.
"They show an almost systematic pattern of torture of these young children … The acts committed by the accused fit into the category of the unimaginable."
The woman was convicted on numerous charges, including assault, unlawful confinement, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and corrupting the morals of children.
Court had heard harrowing details about life in the family's home, including revelations that she and her husband forced their children to watch them have sex. Later, she encouraged them to "try what they had observed" with one another.
The woman's husband has been convicted on eight similar charges, and is expected to be sentenced later this fall.
'Punched, slapped, hit' children
Walsh noted that the woman "regularly and repeatedly punched, slapped or otherwise hit" her children, and put their health and well-being at risk.
She repeatedly held the heads of four of her children under water, not allowing them to breathe.
She tied a bedroom door closed, preventing five daughters from leaving to use the bathroom.
On other occasions, the woman held some of the children upside down over a railing, and dropped two of them — the children not knowing that their father would catch them.
Once, the woman held a knife to her husband's throat in front of their frightened children.
Guilt still not accepted
The Crown had asked for a sentence of 14 years, while the defence had argued that eight years was appropriate.
In picking a sentence at the higher range, Walsh said the woman was guilty of gruesome conduct.
"She does not accept, understand or appreciate that there is anything wrong with her conduct," Walsh wrote.
He noted that a pre-sentencing report showed that the woman "still wonders … why the children are making up these things about her. She continues to deny assaulting, harming or mistreating her children in any manner."
In describing how he came to his decision on sentencing, Walsh noted that the case is "unique" because "there are no reported cases directly aligning with the facts of this case."
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