WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg man who left his 89-year-old mother on the floor of their home, covered in her own feces and urine until she died, was handed a three-month jail sentence Tuesday.
Ronald Siwicki, 66, did not mean to harm his mother and tried to care for her himself, a judge ruled. But Court of Queen's Bench Justice Colleen Suche said he should have ignored her pleas to not seek medical treatment.
"No doubt he was overwhelmed by his situation," Suche told court Tuesday. "The consequences of his failure to take action could not be worse."
Court was told Siwicki's mother, Elizabeth, fell out of bed in November 2014, couldn't get up, and was left in that spot for more than three weeks. She ordered her son to not call an ambulance or seek any other help, fearing she would never get out of a hospital once admitted.
As the days went by, Siwicki said he tried to comfort her and gave her nutritional drinks and water. He only went out to work as a musician and get groceries. She was under a blanket and only after she died did Siwicki remove it and see the extent of her injuries.
Severe bed sores caused her death
An autopsy found that she suffered bed sores so severe, they went down to her bones and were the cause of her death.
Outside court Tuesday, defence lawyer Mike Cook said Siwicki had lived his whole life with his parents and felt obligated to follow his mother's commands. His father died in 1996.
"When you have your own mom saying to you, 'Ronnie, don't call an ambulance. You take care of me' — he did what his mom wanted, as he had his whole life," Cook said.
The Crown had asked for a 35-month sentence, while Cook wanted a suspended sentence with probation.
He did what his mom wanted, as he had his whole life.Defence lawyer Mike Cook
At his sentencing hearing last month, Siwicki told court he had stayed close to his parents since birth, wasn't allowed to leave town, and his mother discouraged romantic relationships.
He said he promised his mother she could die at home, but was not equipped to deal with her declining health.
After his mother died, he called an ambulance. There was so much human waste around her that the carpet underneath had buckled, court was told.
The judge cited a psychiatric evaluation and pre-sentence report that said Siwicki has taken responsibility for what happened and is a low risk to reoffend. He also has no previous criminal record.
Still, she said, jail time is warranted.
"Vulnerable people of our society ... are owed the greatest duty of care by those who look after them."
As Siwicki was led out of the courtroom by sheriff's officers, many of his friends in the gallery said loudly "Love you, Ronnie."
Outside court, one friend and fellow musician said Siwicki cared deeply for his mother.
"We know Ron as the caring, compassionate, gentle soul that he is," said Ian Cameron. "He was in a very vulnerable situation ... He was asked to provide care on a level that clearly he did not have the capacity to provide."
Siwicki was given one month credit, to be deducted from his jail sentence, for time he spent in custody before the trial.
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