WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions of a child's death that some readers may find disturbing.
A man who pleaded guilty to forcible confinement in the death of his seven-year-old daughter in Granby, Que., has been sentenced to four years behind bars.
The sentencing was handed down in a Trois-Rivières courthouse Friday.
The sentence will be reduced by six months due to the time served after his arrest in April 2019.
He will have to provide a DNA sample and will not be allowed to communicate with several members of his family during his detention, including his brothers and his sister, as well as their spouses.
He is also banned from contacting the girl's mother or her stepmother.
The stepmother was sentenced last month to life in prison without possibility of parole for 13 years after being convicted of second-degree murder and forcible confinement.
The girl's death in the spring of 2019 sent shockwaves through the province, sparking public outcry and prompting an inquiry into Quebec's youth protection system. The young girl had been followed by youth protection since birth.
Judge says man acted with 'unspeakable cowardice'
Judge François Huot approved the sentence that was jointly presented by the defence and Crown. However, before sentencing, Huot did not mince words as he told the accused exactly what he thought about his behaviour.
"I have no sympathy for you. The actions you have taken are unspeakable and show that you don't need any special qualifications or skills to be a father," he said.
"How could you have tied your child up like this?"
Throughout the trial of the stepmother, it was revealed that the girl was bound with packing tape. She was found by rescuers naked, malnourished, lying on the floor in a filthy room with furniture stacked against the walls.
Resuscitation efforts were performed on the child, but she was later declared brain dead in hospital and artificial life support was stopped.
The judge said people don't even treat animals that way. Huot said the father did all this because he was unable to stand up to his spouse, the girl's stepmother.
"You could not ignore the disastrous relationship that existed between your spouse and the child. Whose side did you take? Your spouse. You behaved like a coward," said Huot.
"This behaviour, you know, disgusts me to the highest point, as it has disgusted nearly the entire province of Quebec."
The judge told the man that he hopes the memories and images of the seven-year-old girl's abuse and death haunt him to his grave.
"These are absolutely despicable acts that well deserve to be moved outside the usual range of sentences, which normally range from a few months to two years less a day of imprisonment. You have acted with unspeakable cowardice," Huot said.
Son confessed for once in his life, mother says
Names in this case are withheld due to a publication ban, but family members also spoke at the sentencing.
Among them was the man's mother, who helped care for the little girl. She said her son, by pleading guilty, finally admitted to wrongdoing for the first time in his life.
"For once, he confessed," she said. "But, we all know that it is a half-confession in order to avoid a trial which could have embarrassed him even more."
She said her son will have to live with the image of his daughter dying in front of him.
"This image will never leave him. I hope that justice will be served," she said.
On Dec. 13, following an agreement between the Crown and the defendant's lawyer, the man pleaded guilty to one of the four counts against him.
The criminal negligence charge was stayed while the other two charges — abandonment of child and failure to provide necessaries — were not laid. He faced a maximum sentence of 10 years.