A London couple who kept their 10-year-old nephew locked in a squalid bedroom for two years has been sentenced to 18 months in jail plus two years probation.
A judge handed down his sentence Wednesday morning in a London courtroom.
The 45-year-old man and 51-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty back in May to failing to provide the necessaries of life.
London police officers found the boy in a home on Asima Drive in south London in May 2014 after following up on a tip from the Children’s Aid Society about the welfare of a child.
The boy was found in a room with a bed soaked in urine. He was not allowed to bathe and the room was covered in garbage and clumps of the boy’s hair, which he was either pulling out or had fallen out due to malnourishment.
His only outside interaction was with his aunt, who dropped off fast food twice a day. She would immediately lock the door behind her.
The boy, who’s now 12 years old, has been thriving since being placed in foster care. His aunt and uncle have apologized and expressed remorse for their actions.
A victim impact statement written by the boy revealed that he was jealous he couldn’t leave while confined, but is happy in CAS custody now. A statement from CAS described the boy as “thoughtful, well-behaved, and smart.”
Wednesday’s decision from the judge took into account letters from the accused that say they are remorseful and not at great risk to re-offend, but that they abused their positions of power.
Mitigating factors: pleaded guilty, 1st time offenders, remorseful. Aggravating: young age, abuse of position of trust #ldnont
— Natalie Lovie (@lovelynlovie) September 21, 2016
In the end, the judge decided an 18-month prison term plus two years probation sufficed. The aunt and uncle are also prohibited from speaking to the boy unless approved by CAS.
Counsel for the aunt and uncle, Damon Hardy (pictured below), said they all knew jail time was a possibility over house arrest.
“They’re upset, they’re frightened, they’re disappointed,” said Hardy. “They knew that this day was coming, they were prepared for this day and to start paying back their debt. So while in their eyes it is an unfortunate result, it’s an important day, in that they begin, as I say, the process of paying back their debt.”
Hardy said he had concerns about his clients going to prison and dealing with cross-cultural communication issues.
“It’s well understood that our jails are not a place of great safety for all inmates, so I have concerns for them. Not necessarily beyond concerns that I would have for other inmates, but they are first-time offenders, there are some cultural and language issues here. The odds are stacked against them.”
The child’s aunt and uncle arrived in Canada from South Korea in 1997. The boy had been in the care of the couple since 2010 as his father ran into difficulty and could no longer financially support him. He made the decision to send his son to London to live with his aunt.
When the couple fell on tough times, the boy became a burden they decided to hide away. Even their own daughter didn’t know her cousin’s name before police visited the home.
She was also placed in foster care, and the couple has been working to regain custody.
The new wife of the boy’s father said that they are waiting for a judge’s decision on custody.
With files from Natalie Lovie