London couple, who used young niece to fulfil violent sex fantasies, get seven years in prison

It’s the word the mother of a little girl wanted to say in a London court to her brother and his wife.

“I believe that they’re monsters and they’re worse than that,” she said later Friday, after the couple was sentenced to seven years behind bars on 15 charges in one of the most disturbing child sexual abuse and pornography cases heard in the London courthouse.

“They’re a danger to society,” she said.

The mother said she never got to say everything she wanted to last month, when she had a chance to describe in court how deeply her trust was betrayed and her then-two-year-old daughter harmed by the couple who made the girl their sexual plaything. Too much of her anger and suspicion ran afoul of the legal rules for victim impact statements.

But she said she believes the couple didn’t get as harsh a punishment as they deserved.

Worse, she and her husband said, with the couple’s sentence reduced to five years and three months because of time spent in pretrial custody, they’ll be eligible for parole in only 21 months.

“They can be out in 21 months and no one knows their name, no one knows who they are,” the mother said, referring to a publication ban on her daughter’s name, meant to protect her, but which also shields the couple.

Because their girl was so young, not even speaking yet at the time of the assaults, the couple can’t ever know exactly what ­happened.

“She wasn’t even talking when they first had access to her, so she doesn’t have words to describe to us and tell us what happened to her,” the mother said.

“The not knowing what happened, it’s absolutely horrible.”

Ontario Court Justice Kathleen McGowan said they’re “a decent family that has been rocked to its core.”

The convicted couple, she said, “lost their moral compass in ­mid-life and engaged in this ­conduct for the pleasure they derived from it.”

She said it’s important a message be sent to anyone else who preys on children that “there will be no pleasurable reward — that the pleasure is perverse and the consequences severe.”

The man, 46, and the woman, 43, met in high school, have been married for 20 years — she now says she wants to divorce him — and have two sons. They were arrested more than a year ago after police uncovered what McGowan described as their participation in “the seedy and depraved world of child ­pornography.”

Downloads of child porn had been traced to their home.

As London police searched the place, images were being imported onto a computer on the bed in the master bedroom.

That was just an initial peek into the couple’s escalating criminal behaviour.

Most disturbing were 107 photos found on his cellphone of their two-year-old niece on their bed and in violent sexual situations. Those were found after the child’s mother went to police after the couple’s arrest on child-porn charges, concerned about what had happened to her daughter when the couple was babysitting.

The investigation uncovered more alarming activities by the couple.

Text messages between them described the child porn they liked to watch and their violent sexual fantasies involving their own son and female students at their karate school, which were never realized.

And they talked about bringing “a little one” home.


It went another step when the discussions — and some troubling photos — included a family member’s dog.

“The text messages which they sent to each other are replete with lewd comments that leave the impression that they enjoyed their sexual perversions,” McGowan said. “It almost sounds like a game as they plotted to groom children and get access to their little niece and to the dog.”

Before a year and a half of debauchery, they were just another family in southeast ­London.

“I have to ask myself how perfectly normal, previously law-abiding, self-sufficient people can descend into such depths of indecency and cruelty,” McGowan said.

“For if these two can do it, how many other like-minded people are out there and not suspected of any criminal behaviour?”

It all began when the couple was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2013. They turned to drugs: alcohol, cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy, painkillers and crystal meth.

Both told psychiatrists they’d been sexually abused as ­children.

He is a moderate risk to reoffend; she, a low risk, the court heard.

But McGowan said she failed to see how drug addiction led to depravity, “unless one theorizes that the ingestion of drugs released their inhibitions and they fed off each other.”

She noted she was asked to look at “repulsive and disturbing” images and credited the police for their efforts to stop child porn.

“To have to view the tormented little faces of the many victims must weigh heavily on their hearts,” she said. “In the whole system of justice, there is no job more important for the protection of children.”

Because they pleaded guilty, had no criminal records, have been cut off from their family and intend to rehabilitate, McGowan rejected the Crown’s 12-year sentencing recommendation and imposed a seven-year term. She also rejected a request from assistant Crown attorney Elizabeth Maguire to increase their parole ineligibility to half their sentences.

Before sentencing, the man and the woman spoke.

“I would just like to apologize to everyone involved,” the man said.

“I’m so very sorry. I’ll never live this down . . . It’s been an awful ride, I know. I’m truly sorry.”

“Words can’t say how sorry I am for everything,” the woman said. “I’m very sorry.”

But that wasn’t enough for the girl’s parents. They plan to be at every parole board hearing. They say their daughter, now 3, still struggles and so do they.

“She doesn’t like to be too far away from mommy and daddy,” the mother said.

“It’s going to be a long uphill (journey), but it’s one day at a time.”