Winnipeg musician who left mother to die after fall sentenced to 3 months in custody
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, July 10, 2018 12:06PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, July 10, 2018 5:42PM CST
Winnipeg musician Ron Siwicki walked into a courtroom a free man Tuesday but was escorted out by sheriff’s officers after a Queen’s Bench Justice imposed a jail sentence for his role in his elderly mother’s death.
Elizabeth Siwicki, 89, lived with dementia and fell out of her bed sometime before Nov. 21, 2014 in the home she shared with her son. She died around four weeks later, her body covered in feces and urine.
Siwicki previously pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death, admitting his role in letting his elderly mother die on the floor.
Court heard Siwicki couldn’t lift his mother up after the fall and was following his mother’s wishes not to ask for help.
Justice Colleen Suche sentenced Siwicki to three months in custody, minus one month for time served.
Suche told court Siwicki’s actions weren’t out of cruelty but out of “misplaced love, loyalty or obedience.”
“The fact remains that Mr. Siwicki’s actions were an abdication of his responsibilities as his mother’s caregiver,” Suche told court. “Some period of actual imprisonment is required.”
Siwicki sat next to his lawyer Mike Cook in a courtroom filled with his supporters. Wearing a purple dress shirt and blue jeans, Siwicki clenched a tissue in his hands and mainly sat still as Suche read her decision.
Siwicki’s friends voiced messages of support telling him, “We love you, Ron” and “Be strong.”
Court heard Siwicki’s mother didn’t want to receive care in hospital and was adamant that her son not call for help.
Instead, Siwicki brought her pillows, blankets, water and fed her nutritional drinks. Court heard that when she died, he moved her body from her bedroom into a hallway and cleaned her before calling 911.
An autopsy determined Elizabeth died of sepsis due to severe bed sores from lying on her side.
“He had no idea of her condition,” Suche told court.
Siwicki lives with diabetes and had heart surgery following his mother’s death, something his lawyer argued shows he was also neglectful of his own health.
Court heard 27 letters of support were submitted about Siwicki, which described him as a loving, caring, and passive man.
“He played the role of the devoted son to everyone who knew him,” Suche told court.
A psychiatric assessment found no signs of mental illness and no risk of reoffending.
“I think everybody that hears about this case will realize that you have a legal obligation, more than a moral obligation, you have legal obligation to make sure your aging parent or your sick family members does get care,” Siwicki’s defence lawyer Mike Cooke said outside court.