|A dungeon built in an abandoned farmhouse had chains hanging from the ceiling and was completely sealed with a re-enforced door that was locked shut with a tire iron.
OSHAWA, Ont. – A 45-year-old man who built a dungeon in an abandoned farmhouse listened intently as his ex-wife and her friend — a woman he intended to imprison — talked about living in fear.
Then, as Robert Edwin White's sentencing hearing drew to a close on Monday, he delivered a rambling speech that included an apology.
"I committed a crime and for that I am very sorry," White told court as he began speaking for 20 minutes from the prisoner's box.
Tissues in hand, occasionally dabbing his eyes, he tried to explain his actions prior to his arrest in February.
White said there was "an awful lot of strife" in his marriage to Patricia Gallagher, with whom he has two kids, 11 and 13.
And he was angry at her relationship with Gwen Armstrong. White said he initially blamed Armstrong for their marriage woes but is now grateful that she took in Gallagher and their kids.
"I had been hurt and I didn't handle it well," White said of his decision to start building the dungeon in 2010.
He admitted wanting to abduct Armstrong and confine her in the sealed room in the basement of the north Pickering, Ont., farmhouse.
"I thought that I was doing this for my children, to free them from a bondage situation," he said.
Contractors stumbled upon the dungeon on airport land in November 2011.
Behind the room's re-enforced door, which was locked with a tire iron, chains hung from the ceiling and jugs of water were on the floor.
The farmhouse, which was slated for demolition, was deliberately set ablaze in January.
White, who has been in custody since February, pleaded guilty last Wednesday to breaking and entering with intent to commit an indictable offence. An attempted kidnapping charge was dropped.
Armstrong only learned she was White's intended target after his guilty plea.
"I am still in shock," she said, reading her victim-impact statement.
Armstrong said she will never forget the photos of the dungeon she saw in the news.
"They fill me with such horror that I feel physically ill," she said.
Gallagher, who also read a victim-impact statement, tearfully explained she feels guilty for what Armstrong has endured after helping her flee "an abusive relationship.”
"I live in fear for my safety and the safety of my children every day," she said, adding both her kids now need counselling.
Crown attorney David Slessor read a victim-impact statement from Dorothy White, the convicted man's current wife, who claims to now suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
He asked for a sentence of two years less a day, while defence lawyer Paul Affleck said a prison term of seven to nine months would be appropriate.
Judge Mary Teresa Devlin will hand down her sentence Oct. 4.