WARNING: This story contains disturbing content
A Surrey provincial court judge has sentenced a mother to 174 days in jail after she was found guilty of “failing to provide the necessaries of life” to her four-year-old son.
Judge Gary Cohen sentenced the woman, identified only by the initials G.K., on Aug. 27. There is no minimum sentence for such a crime but the maximum is five years in prison. Cohen noted in his reasons for judgment that the defendant failed to protect her son from physical abuse “which caused him significant bodily harm.
“Further, she failed to attend to the medical needs arising from those injuries within a reasonable amount of time thereby endangering his life,” Cohen said.
The woman was found guilty by Surrey provincial court Judge Peder Gulbransen, who died on June 16, 2021 before he could pass sentence.
“Judge Gulbransen was clear in his findings that a great deal of harm had been done to the defendant’s child, describing the child as someone who “looked like a victim of torture,” Cohen noted. “The child had been burned, whipped and otherwise assaulted with weapons. He had broken bones in a hand, an open wound on his face, bruises all over his body and burn marks in various stages of healing. He had a damaged eardrum, bruising to his penis, bruises around his eyes, and his back was crisscrossed with long linear marks. On search of the defendant’s home, barbeque lighters were found that had the child’s blood on them as was an iron which also had the child’s blood on it. The home was not in a proper habitable condition.”
The court heard the assaults took place in 2015 but charges were not laid until 2019. The trial was held in 2021 with the original charges laid against G.K. and her “domestic partner,” but these were stayed by the Crown.
“The only charge that proceeded was the ‘Failure to Provide Necessaries of Life’ charge, which charge was pursued only against this defendant, not her domestic partner. Indeed, all charges against her domestic partner were stayed,” Cohen noted.
The court heard the abuse suffered by the child was reported when the woman, age 32, took him to hospital after her employer urged her to. He was removed from her care that night. The defendant presented a defence of “lawful excuse” for not protecting her son from the violence or getting him medical treatment because she was afraid of reprisal from her partner and feared losing care of him to his father. Gulbransen reject this defence.
“The act of a child’s parent standing idly by while her domestic partner causes substantial bodily harm to her child is an act worthy of significant denunciation but it is less worthy of denunciation than the act of committing that violence,” Cohen noted.
He explained that based on case law provided, “a long sentence for a person convicted of this offence starts at one year in jail and could be as long as two years. A long sentence is more likely to be reserved for a person convicted of directly committing the harm to the child.”
“It is my finding that the defendant has yet to acknowledge the part she played in causing and contributing to so much of child’s suffering, in the extra times he got beaten because she didn’t remove him from the home sooner, in the extra pain he suffered needlessly because she didn’t take this beaten child for the urgent medical treatment he so visibly and obviously needed,” Cohen decided.
He also sentenced the mom to two years of probation after she gets out of jail and ordered her not to go to any public park, swimming area, community centre or theatre where youths under 18 might be, or a daycare centre, school or playground.
“You must not have any contact, communication directly or indirectly, or be in the presence of any person under the age of 18,” Cohen told her. She must also report to Forensic Psychiatric Services.