WARNING: Some of the details in this article are disturbing.
Two women who pleaded guilty to aggravated assault after two children were found confined to an Edmonton basement in 2017 were in court Thursday for a sentencing hearing.
Crown Prosecutor Jayme Williams is seeking seven to eight years in prison for each of the women in the case, suggesting they are both equally responsible for what happened. The women, who were 23 and 24 when they were charged, cannot be named to protect the children’s identities.
The women pleaded guilty last September to the aggravated assault and unlawful confinement of two girls — aged three and six.
In December 2017, police responded to a home in northeast Edmonton to check on the welfare of five children. The children, all under the age of 10, were found in “a shocking environment and physical state,” Edmonton police said at the time.
All five children were taken to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Three of the children were treated and released, while two were admitted with serious injuries.
An agreed statement of facts presented in court stated one woman was the mother of the two abused children and the other was the mother of three other kids in the home.
The court document stated the women hired a babysitter and went out partying. They told the babysitter their children were sleeping, but she later heard knocking on a basement door that was blocked by a dresser.
The babysitter made her way into the basement where she found two bruised and undernourished little girls in dirty diapers, asking for food and water. The basement was undeveloped, with no bathroom and only a urine-soaked mattress, and feces strewn on the floor.
One child struggled to move because of their physical injuries, the court documents said. She needed plastic surgery for tissue damage to her hip and buttocks. One child had abrasions, cuts and scars across their whole body from a belt. And one required dental surgery to repair broken teeth.
The two women sobbed quietly throughout the day as the Crown presented her submissions in the case.
“Both of these women abused a position of trust,” Williams said in court Thursday.
Williams told court the women kept the children “in essence, like prisoners” in the basement.
“These women chose to protect themselves,” Williams said. “They were aware of the harm that they were doing.”
Each woman is represented by their own defence lawyer. The defence is seeking five years for the mother of the children, followed by a two-year probation period.
The defence is asking for four-and-a-half to five years for the other woman, followed by two to three years’ probation.
Both women would receive credit for time already served.
Court also heard victim impact statements on Thursday, one from the children’s caregivers, which outlined the children were scared, alone and broken. The caregivers said they hope proper justice is served.
A statement from the children’s case worker described ongoing counselling for the two victims. The case worker also said the older child is bright and cheerful and that the younger child is energetic.
With files from Emily Mertz and Vinesh Pratap, Global News.