Man gets 30 months for hotel sex assault

Dwight Bird is led out of Prince Albert's Court of Queen's Bench on Monday. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

A man who pleaded guilty to breaking into a Prince Albert hotel room and sexually assaulting a woman will serve 30 months in prison.

Dwight Bird, 51, faced his sentencing hearing Monday at Prince Albert’s Court of Queen’s Bench. In September, 2013, he attended a gathering in an acquaintance’s hotel room. After the other guests left, the woman went to sleep. She awoke to find Bird laying in her bed, fondling beneath her underwear. He left, but only after she struck him.

The attack has stayed with her.

“For the past three years, I have lived with anger, fear, anxiety, stress and thoughts of suicide,” the victim told the court. “His freedom was my prison.”

Bird, she said, has stripped away her sense of trust and self-confidence. She said she lives with nightmares. She can’t escape reliving the night he attacked her.

“Frequent travel is required for my occupation,” she said. “It has been impossible for me to stay in a hotel room without recollecting the assault.

“This has left me feeling dirty.”

It’s unclear how Bird reentered the room. Crown prosecutor John Syrnick claims he must have stolen a hotel keycard during the gathering. That, he said, shows premeditation. The fact that his victim was asleep, Syrnick argued, makes the crime all the more heinous.

“She was sleeping, completely helpless, no possibility of resistance,” he told the court.

The Crown was seeking three years in prison, a sentence Syrnick called “the starting point” for sexual assault cases.

Justice R.S. Smith corrected him. The facts of the case, he said, couldn’t justify that sentence.

“Any sexual assault is an affront to the sexual integrity of the victim, and any sexual assault needs to be responded to with force. But the three year minimum has always involved, in my view, penile penetration,” he said. “And we do not have that here.”

Bird’s lawyer, Adam Masiowski, called for a sentence of two years less a day. He pointed out that Bird is aboriginal, and has suffered great deprivation in his life. He was bullied as a child, and dealt with health problems, family breakdown and abuse.

Masiowski also argued that Bird has trouble understanding social cues and has a “lack of acumen” in relationships.

“He speaks with a speech impediment,” Masiowski said. “It’s not hard to imagine that he didn’t have a lot of dating success in his early years. He’s poor at picking up social cues.”

When Masiowski finished, Smith called on Bird to address the court. He spoke of the importance of his “Christian faith.”

“All I can ask for, your honour, is her forgiveness,” he said, “I’m trying to pay for all my sins. I’m hoping that something good will come out of this.

“I pray for her every day. I pray for her forgiveness.”

He rambled on about something nice he’d done for the victim. At that moment, the judge interrupted.

“Mr. Bird, I don’t want to hear about a past kindness you extended,” Smith said. “None of that impacts on you wrongly entering into her room and touching her vagina.”

Bird also argued that throwing him in prison would cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that it would derail the progress he had made in finding a new job and regaining his license. Once again, Smith cut him short.

“I accept, Mr. Bird, that … the penitentiary is not good for the future.”

In addition to the 30 month penitentiary sentence, the judge imposed a 10 year firearms ban and placed Bird on the sex offender registry for 20 years.