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 have been sentenced to eight years behind bars.
The women, who cannot be named to protect the children’s identities, received their sentence on Thursday afternoon.
In her decision, Justice Gaylene Kendell ruled that both of the women’s “moral blameworthiness” was high. She concluded the women knew what they were doing, knew it was hurting the children and that they tried to hide it from others.
The women, who were 23 and 24 when they were charged, 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.
One sentencing report found the accused discussed and planned the abuse, and it was to punish one of the girls for bullying and inappropriately touching other children and constantly eating snacks.
“One could only imagine how frightened the girls were to be placed in that situation,” Kendell said in her decision, “dark, hot, thirsty, hungry.
“The abuse proceeded over a long period of time… both children will experience permanent scarring… What is not clear is the extent of the emotional harm.”
As the judge read her ruling, the two accused could be heard sniffling and softly crying.
Crown Prosecutor Jayme Williams had sought seven to eight years in prison for each of the women in the case, suggesting they were both equally responsible for what happened.
Each woman was represented by their own defence lawyer. The defence had sought five years for the mother of the abused children, followed by a two-year probation period.
The defence asked for four-and-a-half to five years for the other woman, followed by two to three years’ probation.
With credit for time served, one woman has four-and-a-half years left on her sentence while the other has just under four years left to serve.
With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News.