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Three members of city family jailed for abusing woman

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WINNIPEG--Three members of a Winnipeg family were sent to jail Monday morning after they admitted to confining and torturing a mentally disabled woman for several months while she was living in their home.

Provincial court Judge Kelly Moar had harsh words for the trio, calling their actions "animalistic." He said they used the victim as their personal "ashtray" and a "human punching bag."

Dale Hendrickson was given the longest sentence of six years behind bars. His sister, April Armstrong, was given five years. Both pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. They committed the bulk of the abuse between February and June 2006, court was told.

Their 62-year-old mother, Thelma Hendrickson, was given a one-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to assault causing bodily harm

The 23-year-old victim, who has the mental capacity of a 12-year-old, suffered extensive physical and psychological trauma. She was rescued by Winnipeg police in the summer of 2006. The woman was missing large clumps of hair, had two black eyes, burns, cuts and bruises throughout her face and body, pale grey skin and had lost nearly 100 pounds, court was told.

The victim’s mother, now deceased, had been long-time friends with Thelma Hendrickson, who invited the victim to come and live at their Pembina Highway apartment in early 2006 after the victim said she was being abused while living at a relative's home. Hendrickson considered the victim to be "like a daughter", court was told.

Hendrickson’s two adult children apparently resented the move and quickly began a pattern of abuse which grew to include the entire family. The victim was repeatedly burned with cigarettes, had tissue placed on her body and lit on fire and was even "branded" with a burning hot BBQ fork by Dale Hendrickson.

The victim was also thrown down a large flight of stairs on several occasions, causing serious knee injuries which continue to this day. She was also being frequently punched and kicked by all the accused.

Armstrong told police she was angry with the victim because she believed the woman may have molested her young son. However, no complaint was ever filed to police and no charges were laid. Dale Hendrickson and his fiancée, Amanda O’Malley, said they were upset after the victim told O’Malley’s parents that O’Malley was pregnant. The woman’s parents eventually forced her to have an abortion and Hendrickson and O’Malley said they blamed the victim, court was told.

O’Malley pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and received an 18-month conditional sentence Monday.

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