On September 3, two Edmonton mothers pleaded guilty for the abuse and unlawful confinement of their own children.

According to CBC, a publication ban has been put on both the children as well as the mothers, who were aged 23 and 24 at the time of their crimes, to protect the identity of the children. The mothers have, thus, been referred to by their initials J.L. and A.M.

Other related charges have since been withdrawn.

The abuse and confinement was initially brought to the attention of police in December 2017, when a babysitter discovered the two daughters, aged 3 and 6, of one of the two women barricaded in the basement while the three children of the other woman played up stairs.

Some may find the following report from Global News disturbing:

“The statement says the women went out partying one night in December 2017 and hired a babysitter,” reports Global News. “They told her the children were sleeping, but later, the babysitter heard knocking on a basement door that was blocked by a dresser. She was able to shift it aside and found two bruised and undernourished little girls in dirty diapers, asking for food and water. The basement was undeveloped, with no bathroom and only a urine-soaked mattress, and feces strewn on the floor.”

“The five children in the home, all under 10, were taken to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. One child struggled to move because of their physical injuries, the court documents said. She needed plastic surgery for tissue damage to her hip and buttocks. One child had abrasions, cuts and scars across their whole body from a belt. And one required dental surgery to repair broken teeth.”

The babysitter, then, rescued all the children and sent text messages and videos of what she had found in the home, as well as the injuries sustained by the children to the mothers and later to police. The mothers did not return home for 7 hours after these texts were sent.

Police responded on December 16 to the northeast Edmonton home to check on the children’s welfare. All five were under the age of ten. Edmonton police say that what they found was
“a shocking environment and physical state.”

Det. Aubrey Zalaski with the Edmonton Police Service Child Protection Section said that all five children would have been in even worse condition had it not been for the actions of the babysitter who rescued them.

According to CBC, AM was initially charged with:

  • One count of attempted murder.
  • One count of aggravated assault.
  • Two counts of abandonment of a child.
  • Five counts of unlawful confinement. 
  • Two counts of criminal negligence.
  • Two counts of assault with a weapon.

JL was initially charged with:

  • One count of attempted murder.
  • One count of aggravated assault.
  • Two counts of abandonment of a child.
  • Two counts of duty to provide necessaries of life.
  • Five counts of unlawful confinement. 
  • Two counts of criminal negligence.

In 2018, their attempted murder charges were dropped. Now, due to their guilty pleas, both have gotten off with only unlawful confinement and aggravated assault.

Throughout the case, bail was routinely denied for both defendants, likely due to their abhorrent crimes and the potential risk they pose to others. At this point, the two have already been held for nearly two years. The judge has yet to sentence the two and it is not clear whether this time will be deducted from the final sentence.

“I respect the decision, and it was a very intelligent and well written, rational decision, however I must admit that I am disappointed as I feel that my client deserves to be released,” said the Defence lawyer Ajay Juneja, representing JL, in 2018. Juneia cited 2016 changes in judicial legislation that set new guidelines for what constitutes “reasonable delay” in court proceedings and detention.

“Given current scheduling dates it looks like we’re not going to  get to trial until sometime in 2020, most likely the middle of 2020, which means that my client will have been in custody for two and a half years just waiting for the opportunity to assert her innocence on allegations that have yet to be proven.”

On September 3, “the judge adjourned the case to await the results of pre-sentencing reports on the women, who are both in custody,” reports Global News.

Their sentencing date has not been decided yet.