CONTENT WARNING: This story contains disturbing and graphic content.
It was an emotional day in court on Wednesday as the trial surrounding a child abduction in London, Ont., three years ago heard how the crime left an irremovable stain on its victims.
In May, Lawrence Allen Thompson was found guilty of kidnapping, child abduction, sexual interference and sexual assault.
The 68-year-old’s conviction stems from the abduction and sexual assault of a four-year-old girl who had been playing outside in northeast London on May 13, 2018 before she was picked up by Thompson in his Chevrolet Impala.
Thompson drove the girl a short distance, at one point pulling down her pants and underwear and placing her on his lap, the court heard.
The man, who was 65 at time, then dropped off the four-year-old girl at her neighbour’s house a short time later before the girl ran back home.
On Wednesday, court heard seven victim impact statements from the victim herself and several of her family members.
The young girl, who’s now seven, addressed her statement “to the bad man who took me.”
“I know deep down inside that you have a family and that you would never want what happened to me to happen to your family,” the girl said in a statement read by Crown attorney Kristina Mildred.
“Please remember to always treat people how you want people to treat you. Please never make that choice again, so you can live your life.
“I just really want to know why you made the choice you did. Please answer my question if you can, and I hope you take my advice.”
The victim’s older sister stated that Thompson should be ashamed of himself and “should be in jail for one million years. You are so, so, so bad.”
“You make me feel sad. I am always scared. I don’t like London anymore…. I have trouble sleeping because I think you will come back to steal (my younger sister),” she added.
Statements from other family members elaborated on the rippling effects of Thompson’s act.
The girl’s grandfather noted that the victim is now scared of anyone with a beard, recalling how a family friend couldn’t continue a Christmas tradition of dressing up as Santa Claus due to the girl’s fear.
Her grandmother talked about “many sleepless nights,” and how numerous therapy sessions, medical appointments and police station interviews led to the girl missing school and her parents missing work.
“If Mr. Thompson would’ve just told the truth and took his consequences, it would have saved us a lot of grief for everyone,” the grandmother said. “Mr. Thompson was truly surprised at the judge’s verdict. I’m thankful she saw the truth.
“In my opinion, Mr. Thompson is truly a knight in Satan’s service.”
The girl’s father recalled how he had a successful and growing business about an hour and a half outside of London that he had to leave because he was “too far away to be able to respond if something bad happened.”
“What happened pushed me into a mental state where I didn’t trust others; I wasn’t able to cope with the stresses of my management position. It cost me a good salary and benefits to move jobs, all because of what happened May 13,” the father said.
“My blood boils whenever there’s mention of Larry Thompson’s name. I have so much anger towards him.”
The victim’s mother spoke about having to leave the neighbourhood after the incident.
“I moved my family from the neighbourhood and house that I loved because I couldn’t drive by the corner each day and be reminded of how our lives changed so much in just a couple of minutes,” she said.
The mother talked about having to soothe and calm her two daughters after “numerous nightmares,” along with having to place a stuffed police dog outside their front door “because my oldest daughter believes that we are never safe.”
The young girl felt isolated by the fact that none of her friends had gone through similar experiences, including testifying in court, the mother said.
The mother discussed her daughter missing school and developing “bathroom accidents,” trust issues, communication breakdowns and a fear of surprises.
The girl also went through various issues regarding clothing and how she dressed, which the mother said was tied to a preoccupation with her body that stemmed from the sexual abuse she endured.
“(She) lost her sparkle,” the mother said.
“You can see the difference in her eyes in pictures that were taken prior to May 13 and after May 13.”
After the victim impact statements were read, Thompson told the court that he wishes to make a statement during his upcoming sentencing.
The 68-year-old appeared virtually during the hearing from the confines of the Niagara Detention Centre wearing orange prison attire along with a face mask that partially covered a long grey beard.
His sentencing was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, but the Crown requested an adjournment after additional materials were provided on Monday, including an affidavit from Thompson that lacked an institutional record and a pre-sentence report that included new content.
Superior Court Justice Alissa Mitchell ruled to adjourn the case to July 19 “for the purposes of scheduling the balance of the sentencing hearing on that date.”
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