A Winnipeg man has been sentenced to one year in jail for abandoning his two young children on a North End street on a cold, rainy day last October.
The 24-year-old, who can’t be named to protect the identity of the two victims, admitted he was angry at the children’s mother for leaving him alone with them to go out partying with friends the previous night. He responded by going to a Manitoba Avenue house he thought they were at and leaving them on the front step without first confirming anyone was home. It was just after 4 p.m. and the residence, in fact, was empty.
His 20-month old daughter became hysterical after he left them alone, running down the sidewalk in tears screaming "Daddy, Daddy" according to neighbours who spotted her and called police. Her six-week-old sister remained in her car seat wearing only a light sleeper as rain fell, the wind gusted to 37 km/h and the temperature was just 8 C, court was told.
"He’s very fortunate nothing horrible happened. The results could have been catastrophic," said Crown attorney Nicole Roch. "Fortunately these types of cases are relatively rare in this country."
Police were able to quickly identity the children and contact their mother, who was recovering from a night of heavy drinking. She was reunited with her children under the supervision of Child and Family Services.
The father turned himself in to police 10 days later and was charged with child abandonment, which he pleaded guilty to on Thursday. He told officers he didn’t feel he had the necessary skills to parent alone and was upset his partner left him with the young kids.
"He said he knew it was stupid and he shouldn’t have done it," said Roch.
The accused comes from a horrific upbringing of his own, filled with neglect, and was never provided with the tools to parent, according to his lawyer. He was seeking a sentence of three-and-a-half months time served in custody.
"I really don’t care what happens. I already lost everything," the man said in court Thursday through tears. "I’m sorry."
Provincial court Judge Mary Kate Harvie said a much stronger sentence was needed, giving the man another eight-and-a-half months behind bars followed by two years of supervised probation. His conditions include having no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 12 and attending parenting courses.