A Montreal mother of eight has been sentenced to four years in prison for assaulting five of her children.
The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her children, was found guilty of assault and assault with a weapon in April.
The 44-year-old single mother showed no reaction as the sentence was handed down Monday at the Montreal courthouse.
Quebec Court Judge Jean Falardeau compared the violence her children suffered to the infamous case of Aurore Gagnon.
The girl known as "the child martyr" died in 1920 after suffering severe abuse from her stepmother and father. The case received a great deal of media attention, and Gagnon's story was told in two films and many books.
In the 44-year-old woman's case, court was told the beatings began after each of her children, who are from seven different fathers, turned five.
The woman's actions were those of an unbalanced person, said Falardeau, adding he had a hard time imagining this sort of thing could happen today.
Some of the children endured violence for more than a decade before they were taken away from their mother by youth protection officials.
Officials intervened three years ago after the woman's 14-year old daughter complained to police.
Her mother had held her head in the St. Lawrence River, claiming the girl had stolen marijuana from her.
The 44-year-old used wet rags to hit the younger ones and sawed-off hockey sticks against the older ones.
Defence lawyer Mary Raposo told the court the woman misses her children and is doing everything she can to get them back.
She recommended a three- to six-month sentence so that the woman can continue her rehabilitation.
Instead, the judge accepted the Crown's recommendation for a sentence of four years.
The children, who are now between the ages of five and 24, will live with the consequences of their mother's violence for the rest of their lives, said Falardeau.
The sentence sends a clear message, said Crown prosecutor Anne Gauvin.
"Do not abuse people, but mostly do not abuse children," she said. "They're entitled to be safe and loved by every adult they come to meet.