Man, sentenced to five years for raping child, threatens suicide in court

Saskatchewan Provincial Court in Prince Albert. -- Herald File Photo

Correction: an earlier version of this story stated that the defence did not take issue with a finding that intercourse occurred when the victim was 7 or 8. Defence lawyer Peter Abrametz clarified that this finding was included in his claim that a miscarriage of justice had occurred.

A man threatened to kill himself with a staple and allegedly bit a sheriff’s deputy in a Prince Albert court Thursday, after learning he will face penitentiary time for repeatedly raping a young girl.

The 28-year-old man, who is not being named to protect the identity of the victim, was convicted of sexual assault and sexual interference at trial last month. The abuse continued for more than five years in Prince Albert. The victim said that she was two years old when the attacks began. She said they happened as often as twice per week, perhaps hundreds of times in total, and included penetration.

The man, variously described as an uncle or cousin of the victim, shook throughout his sentencing hearing. His lawyer, Peter Abrametz, was seeking a mistrial. He accused the Crown of misleading the court and risking a “miscarriage of justice.” The victim, he argued, had used the word “flashback.” She had also sought counselling for anxiety and depression. Abrametz tried to tie those two threads together to challenge her credibility, saying it could be “in the head.”

“People obtain memories from counselling. People obtain memories from flashbacks,” he said. “And sometimes it’s false.”

He suggested the accusations may have been a “seed that’s planted by the police investigation” and asked whether the victim could really remember acts that occurred when she was a toddler.

But Judge S.D. Loewen pointed out that the man confessed, unsolicited, to a friend. He told a coworker that he had “done something bad,” and that he had “a bad urge” to have sex with the young girl. He admitted to inappropriately touching her when she was still less than ten years old.

Loewen rejected Abrametz’s motion. As arguments continued, it became clear that the man was facing a penitentiary sentence.

“So I’m going to the pen?” he asked the judge.

“You will be, yes,” said Loewen.

The man began biting on his fingers, and on his prison-issue sweater. He asked Loewen for “mercy.”

“You are practically taking my life away,” the man said. “You may as well send me somewhere where there is the death penalty. I will lose my home, I will lose everything… I will be living out on the streets when I get out of jail. So I may as well be dead.”

“That is not my fault sir,” Loewen said.

The man then moved away from the deputy sheriff watching over him, and put his hand up to his throat.

“I’m killing myself,” he said. “I don’t deserve to live.”

Three deputies moved in. They tackled him to the ground. According to a deputy, the man was holding a staple to his neck. He added that the man also bit another deputy as they wrestled on the floor of the prisoner’s box.

“Leave me alone,” the man continued. “I’m killing myself.”

It went on like that for several minutes. The deputies cleared the courtroom. The judge adjourned the hearing.

When court came back to order, the man was in full shackles. He had blood-coloured stains on the front of his sweater.

Upon his return, Loewen sentenced the man to 5 years in a federal penitentiary, with credit for five weeks he’d already spent in custody. The judge also imposed a firearms ban and an order for the man to register as a sex offender.

For full coverage of this story, see the June 16 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.