After being kept in a squalid room for almost two years, the 10-year-old boy wrote in his victim statement, “I was nervous, confused, lonely, sad, jealous because I couldn’t go outside.”
The South Korean boy living in Southeast London was pale and dirty. He was initially mistaken for a girl because his hair was so long and unkept.
The boy knew his name but had no idea how long he had been locked up. He didn’t even know how old he was.
His clothes and bed were found drenched in urine. There were bundles of black hair on and beside the bed, either from the child’s severe malnourishment or the anxiety he was experiencing caused him to rip his hair out.
The washroom was covered in feces and the toilet was full since it hadn’t been cleaned for over six months.
There were many McDonalds and Tim Hortons fast food containers on the ground. The young one was fed fast food twice a day; when his aunt brought him the food she never spoke, but he still always proceeded to tell her he was “sorry”.
At this point the boy hadn’t showered for a year now. He had never attended school in Canada or seen a doctor or a dentist. His guardians had issued an OHIP card for him although it was never then used. After being assessed by EMS, he was luckily only ten pounds underweight for a boy of his age and height, but he had severe dry skin from being so dirty.
The door was locked from the inside and could only be opened with a key, and there were no keys found inside the room. The boy was intentionally locked away in the master bedroom while the parents slept in the daughter’s room with her.
The couple have a daughter of their own that also lived at the home. After interviews with the police, they discovered that the girl had asked many times about the boy in the room and if he could come out. She was told to not talk about the boy in the room. The daughter didn’t know the boy’s name until the officers told her during the interviews. They didn’t treat their daughter the same way they treated their nephew.
The boy came to Canada in 2010 with his grandparents, after his mother passed away and his father didn’t want to, nor could, care for him. The boy had no legal papers.
On May 29th, 2014, police found the boy hidden in the household after an anonymous tip had reached the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). A social worker went to the door to investigate; however, no one would answer, but they saw a shadow inside the home indicating someone was home. So, CAS called the police who then made their way into the house demanding that the master bedroom be unlocked to which they discovered the boy.
The couple plead guilty in May and was charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life and forceable confinement. They abused a position of trust and authority.
Keep in mind the aunt and uncle’s identities must remain anonymous to protect the identity of the child.
In Tuesday’s court session the aunt and uncle sat in the front row, accompanied by a translator. Their heads hung low the entire two hours with their eyes fixated to the ground. They were nicely dressed and calm; they remained quiet while attentively listening.
The couple came to Canada as hard-working individuals that knew they had to work hard to provide for their family. Eventually their financial burdens progressively grew worse after many failed jobs and business attempts, car accidents, and work injuries.
“The financial loss broke their own confidence, self-worth and feelings of self-esteem,” Said Defence Damon Hardy. “They lost themselves on all levels.”
The aunt claimed an injury to her shoulder restricted her from being able to control the boy.
The pair said the boy was bad and would hurt the daughter. However, those caring for him at CAS have described him completely differently stating that he is a calm and bright child.
The boy was at a grade one level of learning when found, but has been excelling in a special program while adjusting back to a normal way of living.
He didn’t ask to be neglected or subjected to the family’s stress and misery. He didn’t ask to leave Korea or lose his mother.
The two claim they wanted to send the boy back to Korea, but didn’t have the money to buy a ticket to send him back. The uncle makes about $3, 000 a month, which pretty much only covers their mortgage.
Wally Libis and Damon Hardy are the defence lawyers and explain that the family’s financial issues and what was going on in their personal lives are not excuses or an attempt to justify what they did. Instead, they are just trying to give context to what has transpired. They say the pair understands what they did and are remorseful.
The aunt told the judge that everything she wanted to say was in her letters to them and that she was sorry and it wouldn’t happen again. Her husband, whom is the uncle, repeated he was greatly remorseful and sorry.
The defence said the pair have a strong, healthy relationship, unlike the aunt’s first marriage that she also has a son with. She describes him as abusive and “an awful man,” that she left after he became abusive towards the son.
If the couple receive their daughter back they will be monitored under authorities.
Since the boy has been found, they have been attending church regularly seeking counselling and parenting classes to display that they want to progress properly in this situation. They want to show they regret their poor decision-making and actions. They have been operating well with officials throughout the case.
The crown is pushing for jail time of about 1-2 years, while the defence agrees but wants a conditional sentence. They say the aunt can barley speak English and is so shy and introverted that jail time would have disastrous effects for her.
The defence shared that the aunt’s greatest lost has been the apprehension of her daughter and possible further separation due to a possible jail sentencing.
The boy who was found when he was 10-years-old in 2014 is now 12, doing great in foster care. The boy and daughter were brought to separate foster homes.
In his impact statement he told officials he wasn’t mad at his aunt and uncle. He said he has lots of friends now that play soccer and swim together, he goes to the library and even plays computer games. He says he is happy now.
The uncle is genuinely happy for how the boy is doing constantly expressing his sorrow to what has transpired.
The couple’s sentencing will continue on September 21st, 2016.
The case is described as truly sad and bizarre. The hope is now that the boy can grow up with minimal haunting thoughts from this lengthly childhood experience.