The mother of two Winnipeg children who were abducted in 2008 and taken to Mexico says the sentence for one of the people arrested in the case was unfair.

Emily Cablek's children, Abby and Dominic Maryk, were found in a townhouse complex in Guadalajara in May 2012, almost four years after they were reported missing.

The children's biological father, Kevin Maryk, faces abduction-related charges in the case, along with Robert Groen, who pleaded guilty on Wednesday.


Abby Maryk, left, and Dominic Maryk, right, are seen in this picture released shortly after they were reunited with their mother, Emily Cablek, in 2012. (Family photo)

The judge sentenced the 43-year-old to one year in jail — a sentence that disappointed Cablek.

"I lost my kids for four years, and Rob got a year for that," she told CBC News on Thursday.

"That was four long years and never knowing if I was going to see them again, and that judge only gave him a year for that. That's going to be a really hard thing to come to terms with."

Abby and Dominic were five and seven years old, respectively, when they went missing in August 2008.

The children were on a court-approved visit with their father, but they were never returned to Cablek, who has legal custody.

Police have said the children were kept indoors during the day and did not go to school while they were in Mexico.

After they were found by authorities, both children were brought back to Winnipeg and reunited with Cablek.

"These are kids. They're supposed to have wonderful lives, and they had that all taken away from them, and Rob knew what he was doing," she said.

"No, I don't feel like justice has been served in this case."

Kevin Maryk faces two counts of conspiracy to commit abduction. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 26.

Police are still looking for a third suspect, Cody McKay.

Groen taking responsibility, lawyer said

Court heard that Groen was a longtime friend, neighbour and business associate of Kevin Maryk, according to an audio recording of Wednesday's hearing.

Before joining Maryk and the children in Mexico, Groen sent about $30,000 US to them using Western Union transfers.

"Later on in their stay in Mexico, Mr. Groen went there and resided with the children for a period of time," defence lawyer John Corona told court.


Robert Groen was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty on Wednesday to abduction-related charges. (Winnipeg Police Service)

"He is taking responsibility for his part in this enterprise."

Crown attorney Debbie Buors said a neighbour in Guadalajara contacted a Mexican missing persons organization, the FIND Foundation, with concerns about how the children were being treated.

Court was told that Abby Maryk was going by the name Kim, while Dominic was called Damien.

The children rarely played outside, didn't talk to anyone, and travelled at night, according to the neighbour.

The house where they were living was surrounded by barbed wire, motion detectors and surveillance cameras, and there were bars on the main floor and thick chains on the outside doors, court heard.

Buors said Groen, known as "Uncle Rob," always appeared nervous, while Maryk showed very aggressive characteristics.

Screaming and punching sounds were often heard in the house, court was told.

RCMP have said that drugs and pornography were found inside the home.

Corona said Groen was not aware of the conditions the children were living in until he arrived in Mexico. By then, they had been living there for three years, he said.

"When he got there, he was surprised and a little dismayed at the condition — the house they were living in, the fortification, how the kids seemed distant and withdrawn," Corona said in court.

With files from the CBC's Ryan Hicks