Mother, stepfather sentenced after boy, 4, found malnourished in Regina

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A mother and stepfather from Regina will spend time behind bars after their son was found severely malnourished two years ago. 

Both pleaded guilty in September to unlawfully causing bodily harm to their four-year-old son. Their names can't be published due to a publication ban. 

In court today they held hands as they heard their sentence. 

The 27-year-old mother, who was the primary caretaker, was in tears as she heard she'll spend two years in a federal penitentiary. 

The stepfather, 30, was sentenced to 18 months in a provincial institution. 

"Hopefully we don't see very many more of these cases; that the message would be set out that you have responsibilities toward your children and if you don't follow your responsibilities, you do not provide the necessaries of life, then the court will deal with you harshly," said Crown prosecutor Kim Jones.  

The boy was found after police responded to a domestic violence call at the couple's home on April 13, 2015. 

The mother had called police, alleging her husband hit her. When officers arrived, they found she had been drinking. 

She didn't want to let them inside, but they insisted on coming in to make sure everything was OK. 

Filthy surroundings

Court proceedings revealed the officers found a cockroach- and mice-infested home with clothes and garbage strewn about. There were also feces and urine. 

The boy was found standing in a locked bedroom that smelled of urine. He was wearing sweat pants and a diaper.

Officers described him as pale with sunken eyes. 

The boy and his nine-month-old sibling were taken to hospital to be examined. 

The younger sibling was healthy, but the older boy had serious medical issues, including little or no muscle mass. 

Doctors described him as having a dangerously low blood sugar level. He was developmentally delayed and malnourished, weighing just 26 pounds with bones protruding from his back. 

A pediatrician found him to be in the weight category of 0.1 to 3 per cent, meaning no more than 3 per cent of children that age would typically weigh that little. 

The mother said she knew the boy was ill since February of that year and that she had taken him to a specialist for what she called high metabolism several times. 

However, there were no records of the specialist appointments, and no records of doctors visits in the two years prior. 

Defence lawyer Jeff Deagle said the sentence was appropriate, but that his client has mixed emotions. 

The couple, who embraced and kissed in tears after hearing the sentence, will spend their time in separate institutions.

"They're going to be separated from their families, they're not going to be able to see their children. It's not easy for them," Deagle said of the the couple that had no previous criminal history. 

"This is going to be a very scary experience for them," he said.  

The judge also ordered that after being released from jail, neither can own a weapon for 10 years. 

The couple's children, including a third born since the incident, were apprehended by child services. The court heard that the boy's foster mother is in the process of finalizing his adoption.