OTTAWA - A judge handed a 53-year-old woman and her 35-year-old son probation for incest Thursday after the pair admitted to a sordid tryst, witnessed by her daughter and his sister at her father's deathbed.
But the judge saved his comments for the woman, a scrawny figure dressed in black with rust-coloured dyed hair who stood apart from her son, a heavy-set man with a shaved head.
"I think your conduct speaks for itself, particularly as a mother," Judge Paul Belanger said as he gave her two years probation, twice as much as her son.
"I'm going to leave the opprobrium to your own conscience and perhaps the wrath of others. Above and beyond what I might do, the ostracism of members of your family and perhaps others in society will be significant punishment for you."
Mother and son can't be named to protect the witness, the woman's daughter and man's sister.
On May 14, 2010, she was visiting her dying father's apartment along with her mother and brother. They'd been drinking.
She stepped onto a balcony to smoke and happened to look through a window into a bedroom.
She saw her brother having sex with her mother, whose skirt was hiked up around her waist.
Disgusted, she banged on the window. Her brother looked up with an expression of shock and embarrassment.
Her mother — "totally detached from reality” — tried to convince her daughter nothing had happened.
"I view (the son) as as much of a victim as a perpetrator," defence lawyer Robert Meagher said, arguing his client, who has biopolar disorder, had a "horrific" upbringing including being taken into care at 12 for abuse. He then suffered more abuse in foster homes, court heard.
"Regardless of whether your children are 16, 26 or 36, they're still your children and she should have known better," Meagher said.
The pair was ordered to seek counselling for alcohol and substance abuse and is forbidden from contacting each other or the witness.
She's devastated at losing the brother she loved and any chance of being close to her mom. Her dad never got his wish of dying with the family he loved around him.
"It breaks my heart and it hurts more knowing my family will never be the same," she said in a victim-impact statement. "I am hoping that they will get the help they need. That is my wish for them, to get the help they needed a long time ago."