Emily Cablek couldn’t bear to watch the sentencing hearing of the man who helped facilitate the kidnapping of her two children.
And the Winnipeg mother is having a tough time digesting the one-year jail term handed down this week, calling it a serious injustice.
"It’s sad. He pretty much got away with it," Cablek told the Free Press Thursday.
"I lost my kids for four years, which is a lot worse. I feel like he’s not really taking any responsibility."
Robert Groen, 43, pleaded guilty to being a party to abduction for his role in the kidnappings. The Crown sought a four-year prison term.
Dominic Maryk, now 13, and Abby Maryk, now 11, were abducted while on a court-authorized visitation with their father, Kevin Maryk, in August 2008.
‘It’s sad. He pretty much got away with it. I lost my kids for four years, which is a lot worse. I feel like he’s not really taking any responsibility’ — Emily Cablek
They were found in May 2012 in Mexico.
Kevin Maryk is set to be sentenced later this month. A third accused, Maryk’s nephew, Cody McKay, 24, is wanted on a warrant. McKay is believed to be hiding in Mexico.
Cablek didn’t attend Groen’s hearing, instead allowing justice officials to play a videotaped victim-impact statement that spoke of the trauma inflicted on her two children.
Both were kept as "virtual prisoners," provincial court Judge Dale Schille said upon hearing the facts.
But that leaves Cablek wondering why he didn’t deliver a tougher sentence.
Schille sentenced Groen to six more months in jail. He’s already served six months. He will likely be released on parole by this summer.
"(Groen) has a child himself (a 15-year-old daughter). How he could just sit back and let this happen is frustrating," Cablek said Thursday.
Cablek hopes the Crown is considering an appeal of the ruling. It has 30 days to file an appeal.
Groen, a longtime neighbour and friend of Maryk, admitted to sending more than US$30,000 to Mexico. That money allowed Maryk to continue hiding out with the two children. They were living in virtual squalor, with no access to doctors, dentists or schools. The children have behavioural and developmental issues because they were isolated from others for so long.
"Dominic and Abby had their safety put on the line constantly. It wasn’t any kind of normal life," Cablek said.
When Winnipeg police began to close in on Groen in 2011, he fled to Mexico to live with Maryk and the children.
Groen left his wife, emptied their bank account and sold much of his possessions, including $30,000 in jewelry, the car he was driving that was owned by his parents and a $4,000 stamp collection.
At his sentencing, Groen’s lawyer claimed Maryk had "control" over him based on his aggressive demeanour. But Cablek questioned how he could have stayed silent for so many years, especially when Maryk was in Mexico and he remained in Winnipeg.
"When Kevin left, why couldn’t he have gone to the police?" she said Thursday. "And it’s not like he forced him to (go) to Mexico."
Cablek is planning to attend Maryk’s sentencing hearing in person. She believes the Crown plans to seek a five-year sentence. The maximum penalty for abduction is 10 years.
Both children are confused about their father, who is now gone from their lives.
"They both miss their dad, of course. They don’t know why he did what he did," Cablek said.
Abby is struggling the most.
"She puts it behind her rather than deal with it. It’s like that time of her life doesn’t exist. She doesn’t like to talk about anything," said Cablek.
Dominic suffers extreme emotional issues and spends much of his time playing video games.
"He still has nightmares, is afraid of the dark," said Cablek.
She and her kids have spent countless hours with psychologists and counsellors, but progress is slow. "Things aren’t the way I’d hoped they’d be," said Cablek.