Darcy Don Bannert

Abuser of 4-year-old gets 8 years in prison

Darcy Don Bannert was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for the torture and repeated sexual abuse of a four-year-old girl who called him daddy.

BY THE EDMONTON JOURNAL SEPTEMBER 27, 2007

Darcy Don Bannert was sentenced to eight years in prison Wednesday for the torture and repeated sexual abuse of a four-year-old girl who called him daddy.

The 26-year-old Edmonton man was convicted in June of sexually assaulting his girlfriend’s daughter, as well as sexual interference, unlawful confinement, assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.

Police called it “one of the most horrific child abuse cases they have ever seen.”

“This was a systematic plan and an abusing, controlling pattern of behaviour,” Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Darlene Acton said in an oral judgment.

“Mr. Bannert chose to engage in these criminal activities,” she said. “There is no evidence before the court that he did not know or did not understand that his behaviour was wrong and unacceptable in our society.”

Bannert was pale but showed no emotion in court. Dressed in a prisoner’s blue jumpsuit with the collar turned up to hide the big heart-shaped tattoo on his neck, he sat hunched in the prisoner’s dock, his eyes on the judge.

Bannert called his mother after his sentencing. “He’s doing OK,” Juanita Bannert said from her home in Grand Forks, B.C.

“I don’t believe that there was any sexual abuse there. I find that horrifying and I cannot believe that.”

She said she hopes her son gets counselling while he is in prison, to help him deal with his anger.

“Through thick and thin I am behind my son. I love him.”

At trial, court heard Bannert used handcuffs to shackle the girl to furniture “for his own amusement,” locked her in a dark basement and sexually assaulted her at bath time.

Witnesses described seeing the little girl punched, slapped and hit in the derelict north-Edmonton home.

They testified that Bannert forced her to sit on the couch with him to watch pornographic videos, and that she danced for him “like a stripper.”

She was routinely deprived of water, to the point where she drank liquid plant fertilizer and her own urine.

Acton said the court must send a very strong message to Canadians that people who perpetrate crimes against children face severe punishment.

She gave Bannert the standard two-for-one credit for the time he has already served, bringing his sentence to five years and eight months in a penitentiary.

Crown prosecutor Shelley Bykewich had asked Acton to sentence Bannert to between 12 and 15 years in prison, and defence lawyer Kent Teskey urged her to consider an eight-year sentence.

Both declined to comment Wednesday. A spokesman for Alberta Justice also declined to comment, as the case is still before the courts.

“There is an appeal period and the department will be reviewing the judge’s ruling before making any decision on the appeal,” David Dear said.

Bannert’s 22-year-old girlfriend, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, was also convicted of assaulting her daughter and causing the child to be in need of protective services.

She was sentenced in July to two years of strict, around-the-clock house arrest, followed by one year of probation. The Crown has appealed that sentence.

Court heard that both Bannert and the child’s mother were also physically and sexually abused as children.

Teskey told the court Bannert was raised in a violent home in Grand Forks, and that he was in and out of foster care for most of his life.

At 15, he spent two weeks in hospital after his stepfather beat him with a baseball bat. Later, he was sexually assaulted while performing community service work.

The child’s mother also lived a “horrific life,” defence lawyer Mike Danyluik said at her sentencing hearing in July.

Court heard that both of the woman’s parents were addicted to alcohol and drugs and that her father encouraged her mother into prostitution to support their habits. As a child, she was left with strangers while her mother worked, and was once offered to a john.

The doe-eyed, dark-haired little girl at the centre of this case will never return to her mother’s care.

She has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and can’t form normal emotional bonds with others. She has trouble eating, sleeping and playing nicely with other children.

In a victim impact statement, a Children’s Services case worker said her future will be fraught with challenges as a result of the abuse she has suffered.

However, the case worker told the court there is still hope for the little girl, who turns six this month.

kkleiss@thejournal.canwest.com

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Provided by the Sexual Abuse Network of Canada