A man arrested multiple times while on bail in a small NWT community was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on Friday, while a separate case involving one of his alleged offences continues.
The man was on probation – having served time for sexual assault – when he was arrested in February 2019, after another woman accused him of raping her.
Released on bail, he was charged seven months later with sex crimes against a teenage girl.
Released on bail again, the man was found breaking his house arrest two months later while wandering, intoxicated, through the same community.
He was then kept behind bars until trial.
“Our bail system relies on people to comply with court orders,” Crown prosecutor Billi Wun said in Territorial Court in Yellowknife last week.
“It’s because of this expectation of compliance … that even people who are charged with some of the most serious offences are released on reasonable bail as a constitutional right.
“When an accused breaches conditions that are attached to very serious charges, this tends to diminish the public’s confidence in the administration of justice. It diminishes people’s belief that the bail system is working and operating to protect public safety.”
A publication ban protects the identities of the victims. As a result, Cabin Radio is not naming the community in which the offences occurred.
‘He takes responsibility’
The man, in his thirties, pleaded guilty to the February 2019 rape of a woman he had invited to his house for a night of drinking. He also admitted breaking the conditions of his bail.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing, the woman’s victim impact statement indicated the assault had left her feeling insecure and ashamed.
The Crown called for a 39-month total sentence followed by three years’ probation, noting the man’s accumulated remand time would bring his actual sentence under two years.
While Wun described the man as a “repeat offender for the same offence of major sexual assault” – citing a 2016 conviction for sexual assault – defence lawyer Leslie Moore said the man was himself sexually abused as a child and witnessed alcohol abuse and violence at the family home. (The man’s mother disputed this account in a pre-sentence report.)
“He takes responsibility for what he did,” said Moore. “He is a product of the residential school system – his mother went, and his father worked for the church.
“The residential school system is a product of the Government of Canada trying to destroy a way of life.”
Moore suggested a total of 32 months for the two crimes, plus two years’ probation.
The Crown and defence differed on the need for a ban on alcohol during probation, which Moore said would “likely be setting him up for failure.”
Asked is he had anything to say, the man told the court: “I am truly sorry … I won’t do it again no more.”
Judge Garth Malakoe sided with the Crown in sentencing the man to three years for the sexual assault and two months for the bail breach, though only two years’ probation after release.
While on probation the man will be prohibited from contacting the victim, must take counselling as directed, provide a sample to the national DNA crime data bank, and be on the sex offenders’ registry for 20 years.
He will not be prohibited from consuming alcohol, as quitting “will have to be his choice,” said Malakoe.
With 606 days’ earned remand credit, the man has 18 months left to serve.
Separate case continues
Earlier on Friday, the man appeared before another Territorial Court judge as closing arguments were made in a separate trial relating to the September 2019 charges of sexual assault and sexual interference against a teenaged girl.
The court heard the intoxicated man was seen in the area of the girl’s house prior to the alleged assault. He used to party with the girl’s mother.
The girl had been watching a movie alone – her mother was away – in the early evening when she fell asleep. She was completely sober.
Crown prosecutor Wun said the girl woke up to the man sexually assaulting her. She hit his face, he left, and police were notified.
Defence lawyer Charles Davison argued it was too dark in the room for the girl to be able to properly identify her attacker.
Chief Judge Robert Gorin reserved his decision until December 17.