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Edmonton man sentenced to 15 years in twins abuse case

Twin girls were severely malnourished even though, as a photo provided by the court shows, the family’s fridge and kitchen were stocked with food.

The Canadian Press

A judge has sentenced a man to 15 years in prison for neglecting and starving his young twin daughters to the point where one of them died in hospital.

The father had pleaded guilty earlier this year to manslaughter and other charges, including aggravated assault and failing to provide the necessaries of life.

The man, who cannot be named, is getting three years of credit for time already served.

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A court in Edmonton heard that although the father didn't physically injure the two-year-old girls, he stood by and watched as they were beaten and deprived of food.

He and his wife immigrated from Algeria in 2008 and the twins and their older brother were all born in Canada.

"[He] has lost his children, his marriage and his prospect of a new life in Canada, but this was by his own hand and he must pay a steep price," Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sheila Greckol said Wednesday.

"These are crimes of inhumanity against small children."

Greckol said the man is likely to be deported once he completes his sentence.

The man's wife still faces charges, including second-degree murder, but no trial date has been set.

Court heard the couple's four-year-old boy was healthy when police arrested the parents in 2012 and the family's fridge and kitchen were stocked with food.

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The surviving twin and her brother were placed in foster care after their parents were arrested and have since been adopted.

Court heard the girl who survived was so emaciated she couldn't stand up on her own. She is recovering with therapy.

Greckol said the boy who witnessed what happened to his sisters has suffered serious emotional distress.

The twin who did not live, known as M, weighed 13 pounds when she was found by paramedics.

Her parents pursued legal action for several months to keep her on life support, but two Alberta courts agreed that the girl should be taken off machines on the evidence of doctors.

Lawyers for the parents applied to the Supreme Court for an emergency stay, but a panel of justices rejected the bid. The girl died soon after.

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Doctors have detailed that both twins were deprived of food over a long period of time. They were covered in bruises and had old fractures that had started to heal. An autopsy showed M died of a head injury, combined with starvation.

Crown prosecutor Shelley Bykewich, calling the circumstances unfathomable, had asked the judge to sentence the father to between 18 and 20 years in prison.

The man's defence lawyer described his client as a hard-working immigrant. Peter Royal asked that the judge take into account the man's guilty plea and the fact he had no criminal record.

Royal suggested a sentence of 10 to 12 years would be appropriate.

The man wrote in a letter that Royal read at last week's sentencing hearing that he will never forget his "big mistake."

The father said he feels responsible for everything that happened to the girls and will live with a broken heart for the rest of his life. He offered no explanation for the crime, but said his family found it difficult adjusting to life in Canada.

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