October 4, 2012
Dungeon-builder sentenced to 16 months in jail
By Jenny Yuen, QMI Agency
TORONTO — The man who built a dungeon in an abandoned farmhouse northeast of Toronto with the intention of imprisoning his ex-wife's friend will spend the next 16 months behind bars.
In delivering her sentence Thursday morning, Judge Mary Teresa Devlin sided with the Crown's recommendation that Robert Edwin White, 45, should serve two years less one day in prison.
"This sentence does not penalize Mr. White for what could have happened, a consideration that both counsel submitted would be inappropriate," Devlin said.
"Instead, this sentence does penalize Mr. White for what did occur, with a focus on the reason for his repeated illegal entries to the property which were part of his disturbing plan to construct an impenetrable prison for the explicit purpose of kidnapping and imprisonment."
White's lawyer, Paul Affleck, asked for a prison term of seven to nine months.
Because his client had already served 235 days in jail, equivalent to eight months, he will serve another 16 months to complete his sentence.
White had pleaded guilty to one count of breaking and entering with the intent to commit forcible confinement.
The court previously heard White had planned to abduct Gwen Armstrong, his ex-wife Patricia Gallagher's friend, and ask for a ransom while she remained confined in the dungeon — which had chains hanging from the ceiling, several plastic jugs of water and was completely sealed with a reinforced door.
White believed Armstrong was restricting his access to his two children.
Devlin said two years in prison is a significant term for a first-time offender because it addresses "the protection of society" and acts as a deterrent.
The judge also considered the "extremely serious nature of the charge," including White's plan to kidnap Armstrong based on his perceptions of being wronged, the 18 months White stuck to his plan to build the dungeon and "the fact that Mr. White never relinquished his plan."
Devlin thanked White's parents — Carol and Jim — for attending court each day and called them courageous for supporting their son.
"We are, in a way, disappointed with the sentence, but maybe for the long run, it's going to be for the best," an emotional Jim White said outside of court. "He's going to go where he can hopefully get the help he needs.
He's a good person, he's a good father."
Armstrong and Gallagher didn't appear in court for the sentencing.
"There have been safety measures put in (after White is released), but I can't talk about that," Det. Const. Malcolm Wilson said. "They're at home today. I will be communicating with them. They're concerned, but they're OK. Courts have made a decision that's fair."