Justice
Yellowknife

Man who raped former partner after brain injury is sentenced

Last modified: June 8, 2022 at 6:33am


Warning: This report contains details of a sexual assault, as heard in court, that readers may find distressing.

A 40-year-old man has been sentenced to 40 months’ imprisonment for the violent, cocaine-fuelled rape of his former partner in Yellowknife last year.

Covered in bruises and abrasions, the woman escaped the man’s home – with her attacker in pursuit, still hitting her – after a prolonged sexual and physical assault, a court heard this week.

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At the time of the attack, the man was under a court order to stay away from the woman and not consume alcohol or non-prescription drugs. He had already been charged with assaulting her in December 2020.

Deputy Justice Vital Ouellette, a retired Alberta judge brought in for the francophone trial, called what took place “severe violence.”

The woman, Ouellette said, “suffered several physical injuries, and she was also humiliated and her personal integrity was put to the test.”

The judge continued: “There is no doubt that even if the physical injuries do not seem to be permanent, the emotional and psychological after-effects will be there.”

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A publication ban protects information that could identify the woman, including the man’s name.

The man suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2017 when he collided with an RCMP cruiser. Police were cleared of wrongdoing following two external reviews. The man sued but the outcome of that civil litigation is not known.

The injury gave the man “chronic impulse control challenges in terms of risks to others,” stated the judge, reading from English-language medical reports. “Unfortunately, there is no cure for this brain damage.”

The man’s childhood was also extremely difficult, the sentencing hearing was told, and likely resulted in his other psychological diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

He “had a life of hell” as a child, said the judge, acknowledging the need to balance the convicted man’s circumstances with the damage done to the woman, who is Indigenous and considered a vulnerable person under law.

A man appears at Yellowknife’s courthouse for sentencing in connection with a 2021 rape. James O’Connor/Cabin Radio

Crown Prosecutor Angie Paquin suggested the appropriate sentence was four years in prison, taking into consideration the guilty plea, the aggravating circumstances of the crime, and what she termed the diminished moral responsibility of the man following his difficult childhood and brain injury.

Defence lawyer Joseph Andre Ouellette, from Calgary, argued for two and a half to three years.

Several other charges were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea. The woman did not submit a victim impact statement.

Given credit for time served in remand, the man has 21 months of his sentence remaining.

He will be entered on the national sex offenders’ list, banned from owning firearms, and ordered not to have communication with the woman.

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