The teen who raped a senior citizen in her East Trail home nearly became the youngest person in Canada to receive dangerous-offender status.
But instead the judge accepted a referral previously made by a psychiatrist who recommended the 17-year-old boy receive long-term offender designation, which assures that an offender gets prolonged supervision after he is released from jail.
Friday’s sentencing should provide some closure to those affected by this tragic case, said Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs when the Times contacted him Sunday.
“It was a very shocking event for the community,” he said. “I’m very happy to see this finally resolved in court.”
The accused showed no emotion in Rossland Provincial Court Friday when Judge Ronald Fabro gave him an adult sentence of 7 1/2 years, after deducting time from an initial 12-year sentence for the nearly three years he spent in custody.
The teen, who can’t be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act at this time, is prohibited from possessing firearms for 20 years and was ordered to provide a DNA sample.
“I’ve never done a dangerous offender application previously,” said Crown counsel Hugh McSheffrey, who argued that better rehabilitation would be found under the more serious designation that imposes a sentence of detention for an indeterminate period.
During the trial, McSheffrey favoured the opinions of other mental health experts who spoke to the court, one who considered the teen impossible to treat because he was likely a sexual sadist, someone who achieves deviant sexual arousal from the pain and suffering of a victim.
Though he was found to have qualities of a sadist, the judge felt that this couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He instead favoured forensic psychiatrist Dr. Emlene Murphy’s opinion – that with maturity, the right tools and supervision, the teen will hopefully learn from his mistakes.
In January 2008, the 14-year-old committed the crimes – sexual assault causing bodily harm, and breaking and entering – which he pleaded guilty to in June 2008.
The youth wore a mask and carried a knife during the attack, confining and sexually assaulting the elderly woman over a period of several hours after breaking in her door.
The woman tried to fight him off, losing fingernails and her glasses in the process, but the boy – high on cocaine and hashish – stopped her efforts.
He wanted to know her name but didn’t want her to know his, and asked her to swear on the family Bible that she wouldn’t call the police, court heard.
“The community was affected dramatically by the citizen being assaulted like this,” said Bogs. “It took so long to resolve this issue and is it really resolved in the end? That’s the problem. Two lives have basically been ruined – the offender and the poor lady.”
The teen, with a history of drug problems and a collage of disorders including conduct and attention deficit, has tremendous family support.
During the court proceedings over the three years, his mother would steal glances at her boy, who has physically matured while in custody.
While he has been unwilling to speak in detail about what motivated him that night, a letter he wrote was presented in court in September stating that he was sorry for the pain and suffering he caused the victim and understands if she never forgives him.
His identity has been kept from the public because of his age but now that he has been sentenced as an adult, this ban has been lifted and the press can disclose his name after 30 days.
However, his lawyer, Keith Aartsen, has asked the judge to consider another identification ban, because disclosing his name would be “counterproductive to his rehabilitation.”
McSheffrey disagreed with the request because he said it contradicts the Sex Offender Information Registration Act.
“It is in the public’s interest that the young person be identified,” he said.
The teen will be placed in a youth detention centre in Burnaby for the time being but as he grows older, he may find himself in an adult penitentiary.