A Longueuil man who pleaded guilty to slapping his daughter so hard that she died has been sentenced to 60 days in jail, to be served Monday and Tuesdays starting next week.
Noutené Sidimé, 13, died of a ruptured artery in her brain two days after her father twice slapped her in the face and head for not cleaning the kitchen properly in October 2010.
Moussa Sidimé, 74, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
While Judge Richard Marleau described Sidimé's actions as illegal and unreasonable, he also listed many mitigating factors in Sidimé's favour: he has no criminal record, is not violent, expresses remorse, pleaded guilty and could not have known that his actions would have resulted in his daughter's death.
The judge made it clear before he began reading out his sentence that he was not going along with the crown's recommendation of a sentence of two years less a day or with the defence's suggestion of a suspended sentence, adding the latter was not appropriate because when it comes to the security of a child, such actions must be denounced and the message must be dissuasive. Marleau also imposed a two year probation on Siddimé.
The crown said the judge had to take into consideration that he had to go on a case-by-case basis. While Julie Laborde wanted to send a dissuasive message to the public, she said she hopes the public will understand the reasoning behind the sentence.
"Well, the message has to be clear. Corporal punishment is never the answer to a child's misbehaviour. The message has to be sent and in the opinion of the court, that message was already heard by the community and the accused himself so part of the denunciation and deterrance were already fulfilled but still there was a message to be sent so hopefully people will understand it," Laborde told reporters.
Siddimé wiped his eyes with a tissue and looked at the floor when the judge mentioned Noutouné's name as he read out his sentence.
The courtroom was packed with over two dozen of Sidimé's friends and family members, some of whom got emotional when the judge pronounced his sentence.
Those who spoke to reporters say they are, for the most part, relieved because the sentence could have been harsher.
One of Siddimé's other children, Aissatou Sidimé-Blanton, said that they were never angry with him and the judge took into account what kind of man he is.
"There was no reason to be angry. We were hurting for him. I was actually quite afraid for him in the courtroom in the way the sentencing started and because of the media circus to be quite honest. I was really afraid of what the judge would feel pressured to do despite the fact there was no evidence of violence or violent history. In fact, he's been a very, very thoughtful and sensitive person. My father is very private but he's there when you need him," Sidimé-Blanton told reporters.
"This was one of those freak accidents that, as he said, if he could take it back, he would take it back, we all would."
Sidimé-Blanton, who came in from Texas for the sentencing, said her father will be aided by his faith to help him and his family move on.
"It will be with him, yes, he's praying, but he misses his daughter. He didn't even get to go to her funeral. The first time he was actually able to see where she was buried was when we took him a couple of years ago. Prior to that, he didn't even know," Sidimé-Blanton said.
"For him, it's been very hard and it will be. When you lose a child, it stays with you, it'll stay with the entire family."