Ex-Mountie who abused son gets 15 years in prison

The former Ottawa Mountie who restrained, sexually abused and tortured his young son in the basement of their family home in what police called the worst case of abuse they had ever seen was sentenced today to 15 years in prison.

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details

Ottawa police officers who investigated ex-Mountie's child abuse case react to sentencing. 1:10

The former Ottawa Mountie who restrained, sexually abused and tortured his young son in the basement of their family home in what police called the worst case of abuse they had ever seen was sentenced today to 15 years in prison.

Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger condemned the former Mountie for torturing, shackling and starving his own child.

Maranger said the evidence was "unequivocal and overwhelming."

"This trial was difficult to sit through and what happened to this victim was outrageous," Maranger said at the long-awaited sentencing following hearings that ended a month ago.

The former Mountie, who cannot be named in order to protect his son's identity, was given credit for time served. He will serve another 13 years and two months behind bars. 

Before rendering his decision, the judge recounted the disturbing details revealed at the trial.

The father burned his child's genitals with a BBQ lighter and shackled him in the basement while the rest of the family went about their days upstairs. 

Maranger said videos from the Mountie's cellphone that had documented the abuse were the most telling evidence. The starved boy can be seen crying in shackles in the basement of the family's Kanata home. 

"This case is in the furthest end of spectrum in cases of this type," Maranger said. 

The boy's father suffered depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder after being sexually abused as a child in a war-torn country, according to a series of psychiatric reports. The reports also said he had narcissistic personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. 

But what he experienced "doesn't absolve him of the high degree of moral blameworthiness," the judge noted as the convicted child abuser held his head down from the prisoner's box. 

Det. Johanne Marelic from the Ottawa police sexual assault and child abuse unit says she now considers the young child a friend. (Simon Gardner/CBC)

'I just wanted to put this person in jail'

Two of the Ottawa police officers who worked on the case came to the sentencing Wednesday and spoke publicly for the first time on the case that they themselves could not believe.

"When we went in and spoke with the young child, as I left I just couldn't fathom a parent and I couldn't imagine one of us doing something like that and that will always remain with me," Ottawa police Det. Johanne Marelic told reporters outside the courthouse. 

I couldn't imagine one of us doing something like that …- Ottawa police Det. Johanne Marelic

"The one positive thing is that I now have a new little friend in my life with my family and we are very lucky to have known him because he's a remarkable little man."

Retired Sgt. Tracy Butler said he had expected a tougher sentence, but was nonetheless thankful for the ruling to bring the case to an end.

"Justice Maranger has delivered a message to our community that these types of crimes, these horrendous crimes, against an innocent child must carry increased penalties," Butler said. 

She thanked everyone involved in the case, from the patrol officers who first responded to the Kanata home in 2013 and the assistant Crown attorneys Marie Dufort and Michael Boyce, to her own family who supported her at home. 

"Looking at this case for what it is, I just wanted to put this person in jail," Butler said.  

"It's a case that was very close to my heart and it was horrific. And I owed it to this child to continue on, day after day."

Mountie's wife sentenced to three years in prison

(Courtroom sketches by Sarah Wallace)

In November, the man — who was a Mountie suspended from the force with pay at the time — was found guilty of aggravated assault, sexual assault causing bodily harm, forcible confinement and failing to provide the necessaries of life. He was fired by the RCMP three weeks later,  on Dec. 11.

His wife, the boy's adoptive mother, was found guilty of assault with a weapon and failing to provide the necessaries of life, and was handed a three-year sentence in January.

The pair cannot be named due to a publication ban that protects the boy's identity. He was 11 when his parents were arrested in February 2013, not long after his second escape from the basement where he was tied up, starved and abused.

He weighed just 50 pounds when he was admitted to hospital for treatment after escaping.

'An angel, not Satan, escaped from your hell'

During the trial, the former Mountie told court he beat his son because he was experiencing flashbacks, and felt "the devil lived" in his son, whom he described as being "morally wrong," volatile and defiant.

The aunt, a sister of the boy's biological mother who also can't be named, told court during a sentencing hearing last month that their side of the family was cut out of the boy's life when he was about seven years old, several years before he managed to escape from the basement where he was confined.

"This has been an achingly long, gut-wrenching journey, but in the end a battered, courageous little boy with nothing but his will to live freed himself from your dungeon," the woman told the convicted man as he hung his head and avoided eye contact in court.

"An angel, not Satan, escaped from your hell. And the final, sad irony is that you ended up being the criminal you accused him of being."

The trial, which lasted for weeks, took place in Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

'I am sorry for my son's suffering'

On the second day of the sentencing hearing, the former Mountie apologized.

"I'm sorry for my cruel and barbaric behaviour," he said. "I am sorry for my son's suffering, injury, scars — visible and invisible. I am sorry for his loss. I failed him in every way."

The man wiped his face and paused to collect himself several times as he read his statement. He said he tried to commit suicide twice in the four years since he was arrested.

"I've caused so much evil and only God knows how I regret my horrible crimes."

He added he was touched when a police officer told him his son said he still loves him.

"I wish he would believe me when I say: I love you too, son. I'm ashamed and very sorry for having been a monster to you," he said. "I am grateful and humbled by [your] love for me after all the hell I put you through."

Crown sought 23-year sentence, defence 5-7 years

During sentencing submissions, Marie Dufort said a psychologist had to remind the man that the victim in the ordeal was his son.

She argued that the severity of the boy's injuries and the years he suffered at the hands of his father should weigh heavily in the sentencing, adding that it appeared the child's treatment worsened over time.

The man also used his position as an RCMP officer to deter intervention when the boy tried to escape and Ottawa police intervened, Dufort said.

She had argued for a sentence of 23 years in prison.

In a brief statement to CBC Wednesday, defence lawyer Robert Carew told CBC "it's difficult to explain the unexplainable" in reference to his client's actions. 

​He had argued that recommendation falls outside the range of reasonable punishment. A similar forcible confinement case, which resulted in a manslaughter charge, resulted in a 16-year sentence, he said.

Carew also pointed to testimony from psychiatric experts who concluded the man is at low risk to reoffend and has shown a willingness to engage in treatment for his mental health issues.

He also pointed to the man's loss of his career and all his assets.

The defence had asked for a five- to seven-year sentence.