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Man admits to kidnapping his kids in Winnipeg and hiding them in Mexico

Kevin Maryk is shown in an undated handout photo. The mother of two Winnipeg children who were kidnapped by their father and hidden in Mexico for four years says they are suffering from the consequences of living behind bars and not going to school or seeing a doctor.Emily Cablek told a sentencing hearing for Kevin Maryk that her son, Dominic, is terrified when anyone knocks on their door unannounced. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO

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Kevin Maryk is shown in an undated handout photo. The mother of two Winnipeg children who were kidnapped by their father and hidden in Mexico for four years says they are suffering from the consequences of living behind bars and not going to school or seeing a doctor.Emily Cablek told a sentencing hearing for Kevin Maryk that her son, Dominic, is terrified when anyone knocks on their door unannounced. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO

WINNIPEG - A Manitoba man admitted Thursday to kidnapping his two children and hiding them in Mexico for four years.

Kevin Maryk, 42, pleaded guilty to two counts of abduction.

His sentencing hearing is set for Monday. The Crown said it will seek a five-year sentence, while defence lawyer Todd Bourcier said he will ask for two years minus credit for time served in Mexico.

Maryk stood by his lawyer in court and quietly answered "yes" as the judge asked him whether he understood what he was admitting to. Outside court, Bourcier said Maryk was anxious to have everything resolved.

The sentencing will bring to an end one aspect of a case that attracted international attention. Maryk took his children from his former wife during a court-ordered visit in Winnipeg on Aug. 16, 2008, and fled to Mexico.

The kids, Dominic and Abby Maryk, were seven and six at the time.

Police said Maryk kept the children indoors during the day and prevented them from going to school, from playing with other children or from seeing a doctor. They had very little contact with the outside world.

Back in Winnipeg, police and the children's mother kept the issue in the public eye. In 2009, Emily Cablek held a news conference with the Winnipeg Police Service to appeal for the return of her son and daughter.

"It's two pieces of my soul and my heart missing," she said at the time.

Investigators got a break in the case in 2012, when a neighbour of Maryk in Guadalajara called authorities after recognizing the children in a Crime Stoppers video that aired on Mexican television.

The kids were brought back to Winnipeg and have at times struggled with the transition.

"It was hard for them to find their identity, to kind of figure out who they are as people," Cablek told the CBC nine months after being reunited with her children.

Another man charged in the case, Robert Groen, pleaded guilty to helping in the abduction and was sentenced to one year in jail.

Police are still searching for a third man, Cody McKay, a nephew of Maryk.

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