News / Canada

Couple who confined nephew to a squalid room for 2 years sentenced to 18 months

LONDON, Ont. — A southwestern Ontario couple who kept their 10-year-old nephew locked in a squalid bedroom for two years were sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in jail plus two years probation.

The 45-year-old man and 51-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty in May to failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Court heard they locked their nephew in a bedroom of their London, Ont., home after taking him in when his father was unable to care for him following the death of the boy's mother.

The boy lived in the garbage, feces, and urine soaked room on a twice-daily diet of fast food.

Court was told that when the food was delivered by his aunt he would always tell her "sorry."

That was his only human contact until London police officers found him in May 2014 after following up on a tip from the Children's Aid Society about the welfare of a child.

At a hearing in July, court was told the couple claimed that the boy's last time out of the house was in 2013, after the aunt injured her shoulder and believed that she was "unable to control" him.

"I hope you see why this (the sentence) had to be so strong," Justice John Skowronski told the couple during sentencing.

The boy, who had never been to school, was malnourished, underweight, and hadn't bathed in a year when he was found.

Skowronski referenced the boy's victim impact statement, in which he described being nervous, confused, lonely, sad, and, jealous because he couldn't go outside, saying "things taken for granted by other children he felt special enough to include in his statement."

Now thriving in foster care, the boy said he "goes to the store, plays games, goes to the library, and has lots of friends."

The defence had asked for one to two years under house arrest, but Skowronski cited the breach of trust and squalid living conditions as aggravating factors that led him to reject the conditional sentence.

In a joint letter of apology, the couple expressed sorrow and remorse for their actions, wishing only the best for the boy, and wanting his forgiveness.

Skowronski said he would leave it to family court to decide what sort of access the couple can have to their daughter who, unlike the boy, was well cared for.

Speaking outside of the courthouse, defence lawyer Damon Hardy said it was unlikely the couple, who he described as being upset, frightened, and disappointed by the jail time, would appeal the decision.

"It's an important day in that they begin the process of paying back their debt, which they've understood from day one," Hardy said.

(CFPL, BlackburnNews.com)