Saying her crimes defy explanation, a judge has sentenced a woman from Clarke's Beach to six years in prison for abusing her two daughters.

The woman – who cannot be named because of a court order – pleaded guilty to eight counts of abuse for crimes that took place over several years.

Because of the time she has already served, the woman may be released from prison in only three years.

During the trial, the court heard chilling details of child abuse, including how the mother broke one daughter's bones and left two girls bound hand and foot in a cold bedroom, night after night.

Barry said he could not imagine what the children endured while locked away for days without food and water.

The woman has never offered an explanation in court for her behaviour.

However, she told a psychologist who interviewed her that she was abused herself – by her parents, her foster parents, and her husband – and the psychologist believed she is likely suffering from post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety.

Barry said the woman is still very much to blame for the abuse her children suffered.

He noted that the woman received about $200,000 worth of counselling and intervention in the 1990s, after her daughters were taken away for the first time.

Barry said the woman, who has four other children, knew what she was doing was wrong.

The woman has been in custody in the Waterford Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in St. John's, for the past 11 months.

That time is being taken into account as time served, which reduces 22 months from off the sentence.

The woman will serve four years and two months in a federal prison. With good behaviour, she could be paroled in less than three years.

Barry said the woman should not have any more children, and if she does, social services officials should remove them from her home immediately.

Meanwhile, the provincial Child Advocate will carry out a review of the case.

Darlene Neville has asked for records from Health and Community Services and the Eastern Health regional authority to find out how the abuse was allowed to continue despite several interventions over the years.