12/20/2016 11:23 EST | Updated 12/21/2017 00:12 EST

Boy says his ankle scars 'still burn' from being shackled in family's basement

OTTAWA — A boy who was severely abused at the hands of his father, a now-suspended RCMP counterterrorism officer, has told a court he still needs help getting over the torture he endured and expects to live with the physical and emotional scars for the rest of his life.

The teen, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, spoke Tuesday in a recorded statement played as his stepmother faced a sentencing hearing for her role in his abuse.

Now 14 years old, the boy said the marks on his body are a constant reminder of what happened.

"I wish they weren't there," the boy said of the scars around his ankles that still burn whenever he takes a shower.

In a victim impact statement recorded Dec. 16, the boy described how he struggles with anger issues and feels withdrawn when people ask him about his scars.

"Sometimes I just cry randomly," he said, particularly when he is in school.

It bothers him that he can't see his siblings, the boy said, adding that he has learned that he would never treat his own kids the way he was treated.

And while he is receiving counselling for anger management and other issues resulting from his ordeal, he knows he will need help for some time, said the boy.

"I need to put aside what happened to me, but I can't do it by myself."

A judge last month found the father guilty of torturing and starving the boy by chaining him in the basement of the family home. He faces a sentencing hearing in March.

The boy's stepmother was found guilty of assault with a weapon and failing to provide the necessaries of life and Justice Robert Maranger is to hand down her sentence on Jan. 20.

At trial, the court heard how, over a period of at least six months, the adolescent was abused, confined, burned, beaten, assaulted and starved in the cellar, while his father, stepmother and two younger stepbrothers lived a seemingly normal life above him.

But the "nightmare" actually began in November 2009 when the boy's biological mother died, his maternal aunt told the court Tuesday, describing how the father almost immediately denied his late wife's family access to his son.

The boy's stepmother wept and shook uncontrollably as the aunt described her as a "bright spot" in her nephew's life, but then questioned how someone who once worked as a senior public servant could turn a blind eye to the boy's abuse.

"We cannot grasp how you allowed this to happen," said the aunt.

The abuse ended when the boy escaped from the basement in February 2013 and was found shivering and looking for water in a neighbour's yard. Police said the boy was emaciated.

The Crown has asked that the stepmother receive a "fit and just" sentence of five years in prison, minus time already served, saying she actively withheld food and care from the boy.

But the woman's lawyer argued for a sentence of one year and nine months, with credit given for time already served, plus 12 month's probation, calling her client a "passive offender."

"She did intervene at times" to try to stop the abuse, lawyer Anne London-Weinstein said of her client, including one time when the woman pushed back as the father put a gun to the boy's head.

Speaking on her own behalf, the stepmother apologized to the boy she had adopted as her own at an early age.

"Nothing will ever excuse the behaviour of a mother for such a lapse in the face of such horror," she said as she wept and trembled.

"I am very sorry that I failed him as a mother," the woman added.

"I failed him in every possible way. I hope one day he will find it in his heart to forgive me."

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