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Son gets jail time for attacking abusive, disabled dad

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It's a horrific case of the abused becoming the abuser.

And now, a Winnipeg man who "snapped" and brutally attacked his wheelchair-bound, virtually paralyzed father will have 13 more months to reflect on his "sadistic" actions in jail.

"This is not the way for an individual to seek retribution or redress for past wrongs," provincial court judge Sid Lerner told court Tuesday. "There are ways to do so. This is not one of them," Lerner said.

The son, 44, previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in full answer to a charge of attempted murder in connection to the attack on his disabled dad, 64, at a St. James home on Feb. 16, 2013.

Court heard that while his mother was out of town, the man was caring for his father, who has severe multiple sclerosis and only limited movement in one arm.

The victim told police his son started "acting funny" after drinking alcohol one afternoon, "talking nonsense" and yelling.

As his son's actions became increasingly threatening, the man sought shelter in a bedroom and wrote an email to another son who was out of town, hoping his other son would contact Winnipeg police and get them to come to help.

The son came in the room, read what his father wrote and smashed the computer, court heard.

"'Now you have nobody,'" the victim reported his son saying.

The son proceeded to punch the victim "full force" in the face several times, fracturing several facial bones.

"The victim could do little to defend himself," Crown attorney Dan Chaput said.

The assault continued. The man begged for the son to just kill him, saying he didn't want to suffer any more, said Chaput.

The son responded by threatening to burn his dad alive. "'Nothing would be left but ashes,'" Chaput said he threatened.

He then smothered his dad with a pillow for about two minutes but he was able to keep breathing. When the smothering ended, the victim pleaded for water.

Instead, the son brought him a cup of dish soap and tried to force him to drink it before dumping it on his face and body when he didn't, Chaput said.

The victim was able to get out of the home and into a lane, where his wheelchair got stuck.

Fortunately, one of the man's caregivers happened by, saw the son trying to drag the injured man away and took him to safety and medical treatment in hospital.

Court was told the son had suffered significant abuse at the hands of his father when he was a youth, including being burned with cigarettes and having his head held in a toilet. The son has also battled severe alcoholism for years. The disease has cost him his job and family, court heard.

He has no recollection of the attack, his lawyer said.

A psychologist found he's a low risk for future violence. Lerner was told he's made significant strides while on remand to address his problems.

Lerner found the case showed a "monumental" breach of trust.

"I would use the word sadistic to describe the nature of some of this attack," he said.

"I accept that he snapped, that this was a bad combination of alcohol and the rage within him," said Lerner.

Still, the historical background of abuse gave the case "context" but didn't absolve the son for what he did, said Lerner.

The son has been in custody since the incident last year. The judge imposed three-year sentence, of which 13 months remain — factoring in credit for time served.

He rejected a defence request for a time-served sentence plus probation to follow and imposed the additional jail time, which was in line with what the Crown had recommended.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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