Mom gets 18 months for abducting son

Mother and grandmother, sentenced for fleeing to Texas with Toronto boy during custody battle

Dec 12, 2007 04:30 AM

Courts Bureau

A grandmother and mother have been sent to jail for more than a year after abducting the mom's 6-year-old boy and hiding him in Texas during a nasty custody battle with the father.

The intent was malicious and fuelled by a sense of ownership over the boy, Superior Court Justice Faye McWatt said yesterday.

She sentenced Vera Karpinski, 41, to 18 months in jail and Vera's mother, Miroslawa "Mira" Karpinski, 61, to 14 months.

That is to be followed by three years probation during which they can have no contact with the boy, Gavin Karpinski-MacIver, now 10.

Mother and grandmother, who have no previous criminal records, took the sentence calmly.

Vera waved and Mira blew a kiss to a friend in court just before they were led away in handcuffs.

"They both suffered from a sort of tunnel vision about their own needs," the judge said.

Just before Christmas 2003, Mira Karpinski drove Vera and Gavin to Austin, Tex., when the boy was to be dropped off at his father Cameron MacIver's home.

The move came amidst a bitter custody dispute the motive for the abduction, prosecutor Jackie Garrity had argued.

The grandmother returned to Canada and lent secret support to the mother, who lived with the boy in an Austin apartment.

Mother and son were found nine months later, after MacIver and his family hired a private detective.

McWatt said the most aggravating factor was how the Karpinskis misused social agencies to launch their attack on the father, crippling him with malicious allegations of sexual abuse of his son.

Outside court, MacIver, 41, stood with his wife, Christine, and said he was relieved.

He called the sentence a warning to parents. He said Gavin is doing well, loves his stepmother and is indifferent toward his mother and grandmother.

Defence lawyer Scott Cowan, who represented Vera, said that the judge didn't allow the jury to consider "what this trial was all about" that the pair were motivated by a desire to protect the child.

Chris Murphy, Mira's lawyer, said that although it is clear MacIver had no improper contact with Gavin, it appeared very differently at the time to the mother and grandmother and they took every step they thought necessary to protect him, but authorities did not take them seriously.

"They were abused by the system," he said.