He stole four years of their lives, depriving his two children of basic necessities while keeping them apart from their mother in deplorable conditions in a foreign country.
Now Kevin Maryk is the one facing an uncertain future after the Winnipeg father pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of abduction.
Maryk has been held in custody since his May 2012 arrest and will return to court Monday for sentencing. The Crown said they plan to ask for five years, which is half the 10-year maximum allowed in the Criminal Code. But Maryk's lawyer said he will seek a two-year penalty. With his time already served factored in, that could mean a near-instant return to the community,
Facts of Maryk's crime weren't disclosed during Thursday's brief hearing, which also saw the Crown drop more serious conspiracy charges that carry a maximum of life in prison upon conviction.
However, full details of the high-profile abduction were disclosed at a separate hearing last week the Free Press was the only media outlet to attend.
Robert Groen, 43, pleaded guilty to abduction for his role in what was described as a complex criminal plot. He was given one year in jail. The Crown had asked for four years.
Dominic Maryk, now 13, and Abby Maryk, now 11, vanished without a trace while on a court-authorized visitation with their father in August 2008. They wouldn't be located until May 2012 in Guadalajara.
Groen is a longtime neighbour, friend and business partner of Kevin Maryk. He was asked to help in a kidnapping plot in the summer of 2008, shortly after the Court of Queen's Bench ordered full custody to Emily Cablek, the mother of Dominic and Abby. Maryk was only to be allowed scheduled supervision, which angered him.
Maryk fled with the kids to Mexico and was joined by his nephew, Cody McKay. Groen stayed behind in Winnipeg but played a vital part in the conspiracy. McKay, 24, is now wanted on a warrant but has evaded arrest. He is believed to still be hiding in Mexico.
Groen began a series of money transfers in November 2008, sending more than US$30,000 through Western Union to Maryk. Groen was reported missing by his wife and parents in February 2011. They discovered Groen had emptied out his bank account, sold $30,000 worth of jewelry, sold the car he was driving that was owned by his parents and even sold a $4,000 rare-stamp collection.
Groen had flown to Mexico, where he lived with Maryk, McKay and the two abducted children between February 2011 and May 2012, providing financial assistance.
Police rescued Dominic and Abby, and arrested Groen and Maryk, after tips began pouring in about a family living in a tiny house surrounded by surveillance cameras, barbed wire and guard dogs. Winnipeg police had distributed videos of the case, including one dubbed into Spanish, to Mexican businesses and media outlets.
Maryk was described as an aggressive, violent individual. Police found drugs and pornography inside the home during the raid, court was told.
Crown attorney Debbie Buors said the conditions the abducted children were subjected to were "deplorable" and this was not a situation in which they were given a better life than the one they had.
In a powerful videotaped impact statement that was played in court, the children's mother described how life will never be the same again. Cablek said both children returned from Mexico incredibly damaged. They weren't provided medical or dental care, didn't attend a day of school and were isolated from any other children.
Cablek told the Free Press she plans to attend Maryk's sentencing hearing next week and give her victim-impact statement in person.