Lloyd William Cook has been found guilty of the two lesser counts in a four-charge indictment surrounding the death of his stepson 13 years ago and the subsequent efforts to keep the incident hidden from authorities.
Cook, 55, was found guilty Friday of unlawful confinement and interference with a dead body and not guilty of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death in the Jan. 7, 2000 death of Adam Scott Williams-Dudoward.
Cook, who was deemed an absconder earlier this week, remains at large and was not present in the courtroom when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett delivered the verdicts at the Prince George courthouse.
He was last seen in Williams Lake in the early morning of Jan. 31 where his truck reportedly broke down on way to Prince George to attend the judgment hearing when it was first scheduled.
Based on testimony heard from 15 witnesses over seven days, Parrett found that Adam died some two or three days after being tied up and left in a bedroom of a 7100-block Glenview Drive mobile home.
Adam had been living in the home with his mother, Judy Elaina Williams, his then seven-year-old brother and Cook and, according to testimony, the boy said he was touching and molesting his younger brother and the parents believed those allegations.
Unable to lock Adam in his bedroom to keep him away from his brother, they bound his hands hands in front of him, tied his feet with electrical extension cords and left him in the parents' bedroom.
There was no evidence of a gag being used, Parrett noted, and at all times at least one parent was in the home or in its immediate vicinity. But after two or perhaps three days of Adam being secured in this way, the rest of the family came in from playing outside to find him making gurgling sounds and in distress.
Parrett found that Cook immediately untied Adam's hands and Williams his feet and Cook carried him into the bathroom, laid him on the floor and began efforts to resuscitate the boy without success.
Neither called 911 and instead, his body was wrapped in a blanket and place in the trunk of their car where it remained for some weeks to as much as a month before he was buried in a wood area along the Nechako River, about eight kilometres beyond the paved end of North Nechako Road.
Shortly after, they moved out of the trailer and Cook and Williams, with the younger brother still in their care, began living with other family members to avoid contact with social services. A year after the incident, they moved to Oliver where they hid out in a camper on rural property owned by one of Cook's brothers.
In October 2004, Williams went to police and helped find some of Adam's remains, but only after Cook had found a new girlfriend.
In a controversial move, police did not make public that remains had been found until June 2009 when Cook was arrested. Police said at the time the public was in no danger.
In reaching his verdict, Parrett took Williams, who is serving two years house arrest after pleading guilty in March to interference with a dead body, to task for much of her testimony, saying it was "self serving" and "lacking in detail and credibility."
In particular, Parrett dismissed her claim that she did not call 911 because she was afraid of Cook, finding that other than recounting one incident in which Cook slapped her, Williams failed to express the basis for that fear despite being given every opportunity during cross examination.
Parrett said he found it doubtful that Cook was able to tell her to leave the bathroom and not to call for an ambulance while also working on Adam at the same time. He also rejected Williams' testimony that she did leave the scene.
And he noted that on several occasions Williams, without Cook present, told "completely false stories" about Adam's whereabouts and that under cross-examination, acknowledged that she knew if she called 911, authorities would have taken her younger son away from her.
"It is an unspeakable tragedy that at this trial, some 12 years [sic] after his death, we know almost nothing about what really happened," Parrett said. "At the very least, the evidence of Ms. Williams is in many respects unreliable and, in particular, self serving."
In finding Cook not guilty of manslaughter, Parrett found there was "no medical, mechanical or physical explanation of the death, let alone one linking the accused to that result.
"The evidence here, such as it is, established that Adam was in distress and that the accused immediately took steps by administering CPR. While engaged in those efforts, it was Ms.Williams who stood by and did nothing."
As for criminal negligence causing death, Parrett said it was not proven beyond reasonable doubt that Cook's actions caused his death.
But on the charge of unlawful confinement, Parrett found "no lawful authority exists" for tying up the boy and leaving him in that state for two to three days.
"Whatever their reasons, other reasonable steps were readily available and restraint of this type is not authorized by law nor can it be condoned," Parrett said.
On the charge of interference with a dead body, defence lawyer Stephen Taylor declined to make a case against the count.
In submissions on sentencing, Crown prosecutor Lara Vizsolyi argued for consecutive terms of two to three years on each count.
At the time of the incident, Cook was serving two years probation for charges of assault, forcible confinement and failure to comply with a probation order and while he has not been found guilty of any offence since then, has also failed to appear for the verdict, Vizsolyi noted.
"In no circumstances is tying a 13-year-old child up for three days appropriate," she said and noted that at times Adam was tied spread eagle to a bed.
"It's abhorrent, it's appalling and it's a horrible way for this young man to have ended his life because his life ended with him unable to assist himself in any way, with his hands tied and his feet tied and unable to breath," Vizsolyi said.
Taylor recommended concurrent terms of 18 months in jail and added that in conversations he's had with his client, Cook said he would not do well with a conditional sentence, commonly known as house arrest.
He said Cook and Williams were paranoid and held mutual suspicions of authority and so confining Adam to protect his brother, rather than seeking outside help, "in their world made sense."
Parrett deferred a decision to a later date when either Cook has been found or "suitable time has gone by."