WINNIPEG — A soldier who squeezed his infant triplets so hard he broke their bones 19 times has been sentenced to 18 months of house arrest and ordered to undergo psychological treatment.
Provincial court Judge Marvin Garfinkle rejected the Crown’s request for an 18-month jail term, saying the soldier will get better counselling in the community than he would behind bars.
"These offences require strong denunciation. They are terrible . . . (but) his comments to the court, his behaviour in court, convey a desire to change," Garfinkle said Tuesday.
The soldier did spend nine months in custody after his arrest last fall.
The soldier, 25, cannot be identified because of a publication ban. He wiped tears from his eyes throughout the judge’s comments and stared sadly at the floor when he made a brief statement to the court.
"I really would like to start getting help and counselling or whatever else the court deems necessary to get back to my family," he said.
Court was told the soldier and his common-law wife were struggling with the care of their triplet sons and an older toddler last year. Lacking sleep and under emotional and financial stress, the soldier admitted to habitually squeezing the infants in order to stop them from crying.
It wasn’t until a few months later that a doctor’s X-rays revealed that the triplets had a total of 19 fractures between them — not clean breaks, but a buckling of the bones. The soldier said he didn’t realize until then that he was hurting the children when he squeezed them.
"In this case, it is not necessary to separate this offender from society, provided he gets the treatment and counselling," Garfinkle said in his ruling.
For the next 18 months, the soldier will only be able to leave his home for work, doctor appointments and three hours a week of shopping. He will be required to undergo psychiatric counselling.
He will also be banned from being alone with anyone under 18. That includes his children unless a meeting is approved by Manitoba’s Child and Family Services agency.
The soldier’s admitted temper stems from several factors, including a tragic childhood and post-traumatic stress from a tour in Afghanistan, according to a psychologist’s analysis presented by defence counsel.
The soldier’s father was abusive and ran off when the boy was only four years old. Years later, his mother dropped him off at high school one day and nevereturned.
The children remain in the care of their mother.