An Alberta father convicted in the starvation and abuse of his young twin daughters has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by an Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench justice, who called the case "a crime of inhumanity to small children."

The 36-year-old pleaded guilty to manslaughter, aggravated assault and failure to provide the necessaries of life. Justice Sheila Greckol gave him three years credit for time already served in custody. 

One of his children, known as "M,” was taken off life-support in September 2012 in a case that went to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Her twin sister “S” survived, but was found to have delayed motor skills. She is now a ward of the province, as is her older brother who showed no signs of abuse or malnutrition.

"[He] lost his children, his marriage and his hope for a new life in Canada, all by his own hand," Justice Greckol said while handing down the sentence. 

No explanation was given for why the father favoured his son over his daughters.

When the Crown asked for a no-contact order for both children, the father wanted to see his son, but did not argue about not seeing his daughter. 

The judge issued a no-contact order for both children, as she had concern for their health and well-being. 

Last week, Crown prosecutor Shelley Bykewich asked for an 18- to 20-year sentence, saying the father “chose to do nothing” to protect his daughters.

However, defence lawyer Peter Royal called the recommendation “excessive,” and suggested his client be sentenced to 10 to 12 years, to be reduced by three years once pretrial custody is taken into account.

Justice Greckol said she was aware that the 15-year sentence would likely anger some in the community, but that “vengeance has no place” in the court's decision. 

She added that the defendant's guilty plea helped influence the final sentence. 

The man will not be allowed contact with his remaining children during the sentence and will likely face deportation to Algeria when he is released. 

The children’s mother faces a number of charges, including second-degree murder. No date has been set for her trial.

The man and woman cannot be named under Alberta law because the surviving children are wards of the province.