‘This man is evil’: son testifies during father’s sentencing on family abuse

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The son of a man who viciously abused his family for 50 years told a Cornwall courtroom Monday during sentencing, there is “no love from this man to anybody.”

The 83-year-old patriarch, formerly of South Glengarry, was found guilty in June on 24 charges, which included assault, indecent assault, common assault, death threats and mischief, following a trial. Court heard the grim details of the cycle of alcohol-fueled abuse as the family moved to four different homes in Cornwall and South Glengarry. The assaults from the 1960s were not reported until 2016 because the victims kept quiet out of fear or embarrassment.

The abuse included acts of punching, kicking, poking and pushing. In one case, a child was lifted off the ground by their hair while another was kicked down a flight of stairs. Some children were belted – sometimes with the buckle end.

The man and his victims can’t be named because of a court-ordered publication ban.

The son, now a middle-aged man, told the court he has been scarred, suffers from PTSD, severe depression and has nightmares. “When I go to sleep, I breathe very lightly, so I can hear everything, especially him coming to get me,” he said in a victim impact statement.

The victim, who had his hand “busted” with a fireplace poker when he was 30 years old, said his father is “despised” by family, friends and neighbours. “There is no love from him to anybody, including his own children. This man is evil,” the son said.

Victim impact statements from two other family members were submitted to the court.

The 83-year-old has been in supervised custody since January with an Ottawa community services organization, where he is monitored with an ankle GPS bracelet.

Defence lawyer Paul Lewandowski is asking for a conditional sentence of two years less a day, plus credit for 271 days of pre-trial custody. He argued that his client has been assessed at the “lowest category” to re-offend and has been cooperating at the Ottawa organization, where he could fulfill a conditional sentence. Lewandowski added that a harsher sentence would not be in the public interest to, in all likelihood, have his 83-year-old client “de facto die in jail.”

Lewandowski added that the Crown has taken “the most egregious examples” of case law on family abuse to justify its 12 year sentence.

Crown attorney Isabel Blanchard is seeking 12 years in prison and no credit for pre-trial custody. Blanchard argued the cycle of abuse is “not some isolated incident” and that the elderly man “subjected his family to a life of terror on a regular basis.” The longer the cycle of abuse, the harsher the sentence should be, she explained.

“The passage of time should not prevent this court from imposing a sentence that reflects the seriousness of the crime,” Blanchard said. She called the victim impact statements “very telling. This incident has destroyed a family.” The family unit has since dissolved and members have moved to various areas of Canada and the United States.

The prosecutor said a conditional sentence would send the wrong message that once “you get to a certain age, the consequences won’t be as severe.”

When asked, the elderly man chose not to address the court in his defence.

The case will come back in early December to schedule a date for Judge Rick Leroy to deliver his sentence.