Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No prison for dad who assaulted kids, wife (Ottawa, Canada)

This headline is very misleading. UNNAMED DAD wasn't just "frugal." He was a control-freak and abusive tyrant who beat his wife and kids, and deprived them of food. But Daddy is the one who has "suffered enough" so he gets no prison? More of your classic abuser Daddy Coddling.

Abusively frugal father spared criminal record

By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen February 5, 2014 6:00 PM

An obsessively frugal Ottawa father convicted of harassment and assault charges against his wife and children, has been punished enough and was given a conditional discharge Wednesday.

OTTAWA — An obsessively frugal Ottawa father found guilty of harassment and assault charges against his wife and children has been punished enough and should not carry the added burden of a criminal record, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The 52-year-old father, whose frugality and autocratic household rule led to the breakup of his family in the summer of 2011, left court with a conditional discharge after hearing himself described by Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland as an “outstanding citizen” who took “conservation of resources” to extremes.

Hackland had previously convicted the father on three counts of criminal harassment involving his wife and two teenage sons, and three counts of assault against his wife, and another against a third son.

At his sentencing hearing last week, the man had asked the judge to spare him a criminal record so he could travel and rebuild his life.

According to evidence, the father punished his sons with a belt and in one case a plastic toy bat when they refused to follow his dictates. His older boys were allowed to have jobs but were not allowed to keep the money and his answer to appeals that he turn the heat up in winter were allegedly met with icy response.

“No one was seriously injured from this conduct except, perhaps, emotionally,” said the judge. “However, it contributed to an atmosphere of stress and intimidation in the home.”

The father was originally arrested and released on bail, but his bail was revoked after he was accused of breaching his conditions by having someone contact his wife. He was later acquitted of those accusations, but never brought asked for his bail to be reviewed. In all, he spent 2 1/2 years in jail.

Hackland noted that the father, who represented himself during his trial, had lost more than his liberty during his jail time.

“The accused’s family was the focus of his life and, due to his conduct, he lost them,” said the judge. “The rupture is likely permanent. In addition, he has lost his employment, his reputation and most of his assets and property.”

During the 21-day trial, the court also heard that the father allowed his five children only two litres of water a day with which to wash and that he rationed their food.

Despite earning $90,000 in the information-technology sector, the man didn’t buy a car because he wanted to save for a home, which he did, paying cash for a $210,000 townhouse.

“He almost literally never spent a cent on himself,” said the judge. “He respected his religion and taught his five children to do so. He often described himself as a proud Canadian.”

The man took volunteer leadership roles in several community organizations, including parent-teacher groups, and saved money for his children’s university and college educations.

But he treated his wife harshly and expected her to follow all his rules, said the judge.

When she resisted, she was sometimes treated abusively.”

The family became isolated, added the judge.

“I doubt if the physical discipline would have continued if the accused had appreciated it was socially and legally unacceptable,” he said. “The obsessive frugality and saving also suggests some psychological issues which might have been mitigated with appropriate interventions. Unfortunately these interventions never happened.”

Crown attorney Tim Wightman had asked for a suspended sentence, which carries a criminal record, plus three years’ probation, for the “rigid-thinking man” who controlled every aspect of his family’s life.

“They feared his temper,” Wightman told the judge at a sentencing hearing last week. “He believed in physical discipline and used it liberally.”

The family’s identity is protected by a publication ban.

Hackland said the 2 1/2 years’ jail time at Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre was significantly longer than any sentence he would have imposed.

He will serve two years’ probation with the central condition being an order not to contact or go near his wife, or children until they reach 18 years of age and express a willingness to re-connect with him.

His eldest son has already said he wishes to re-establish a relationship with his father.

The father, who said he only wanted what was best for his family, told the Citizen after Wednesday’s hearing that his time in jail was “a very concentrated piece of hell. It isn’t a very pleasant place and my advice to anyone is not to go to jail.”

He had no specific explanation as to why he had opted to stay in prison except that he had fallen into depression when his family had turned against him and he had found the court experience “humiliating and intimidating.”

He said he also thought he might get a speedier trial if he remained behind bars.

“I couldn’t make any decisions,” he said. “I got lost. I wasn’t me anymore. I thought I had a complete family. Not perfect but complete. I was in total shock.

“I am a very good human being,” he added. “I am not cheap. Money means nothing to me. I am from Yemen. We are the most generous people in the world.”