In court Thursday, a judge heard it was a shared temporary psychotic disorder that led to three mostly naked adults kidnapping a man, his daughter and grandchild near Nisku last year.

Judge Jacqueline Schaffter agreed to a joint submission put forward by the crown prosecutor and defence lawyers, which will see the convicted serve a one-year conditional sentence order in the community and two years of probation.

The three accused adults pleaded guilty to unlawful confinement in September. They remain unnamed because two daughters of one of the women were involved and cannot be identified as minors.

Court—and a room full of supporters—heard the group of five experienced a shared psychosis as a result of days of malnutrition and dehydration, as well as religious influence.

The convicted are all members of the Jehovah’s Witness faith. The mother and her daughters had visited her nephew and his wife at their home near Leduc on Nov. 2. They stayed for three days, over which the group experimented with pseudo-medical techniques, including muscle testing and applied kinesiology, court was told. On Nov. 6, they fled the house to rescue a neighbouring family, believing the Great Tribulation had happened and Armageddon was soon to follow. Only the mother, who was driving, was clothed.

A relative previously suggested they had drunk hallucinogenic tea, but court documents showed neither alcohol nor drugs in their systems.

Crown prosecutor Katrina Stewart Lund called the events “strange and bizarre from the beginning” for which “a full explanation may never be known.”  

She said the victims called the experience terrifying.

The adults were represented by Rod Gregory, Kim Hardstaff and Evan McIntyre. They told court their clients had shown remorse for their actions.

According to her lawyer, one of the convicted women said, “I hope one day I can say sorry to them.”

The adults were given a one-year sentence in the community. For the first six months, they will be under house arrest, only allowed to leave for counselling and four hours per week for religious meetings.

In the following six months, they will be subject to a curfew.

Among other conditions, Schaffter also ordered the adults to receive psychiatric care. All three are not allowed to contact the victims.

The year-long sentence will be followed by two years of probation.

With files from David Ewasuk