January 20th, 2021

Up to 12 years sought for vicious assault

By Shurtz, Delon on July 29, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald


A 21-year-old man who viciously beat an elderly woman in her home last spring won’t know until next month whether he’s headed to a provincial jail for a couple of years or a federal prison for up to a dozen.

Judge Kristin Ailsby has reserved her decision in the matter of Adam Hobkirk-Onate, who is set to be sentenced Aug. 7 on charges of housebreaking with intent to rob, aggravated assault and being disguised while committing an offence.

Lethbridge lawyer Wade Hlady asked Monday in Lethbridge provincial court that his client be sentenced for aggravated assault to the time he has already served in custody since he was arrested more than a year ago. For the break-in and robbery, Hlady suggested a sentence of two years less a day, which would allow Hobkirk-Onate to serve his sentence in a provincial jail, followed by probation, perhaps with house arrest.

The Crown, on the other hand, is seeking 10-12 years in a federal penitentiary for the break-in and robbery. Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox also recommended a six-year sentence for aggravated assault, and up to a year for being disguised, but he suggested they should run concurrently with the sentence for the break-in.

On May 21, 2019 Hobkirk-Onate found himself without any money and no place to go after he was fired from his job in Waterton. Late that night he targeted a somewhat sheltered residence at the end of a cul-de-sac. He entered the home through an unlocked door, and while the elderly owner slept, he had a beer, some wine and a ham and cheese sandwich. He even cleaned up his mess so the owner wouldn’t know anyone had been in her kitchen.

He found some vodka, then hid in a closet in the basement the rest of the night. The next day, after the owner left for an afternoon appointment, Hobkirk-Onate crept out of his hiding place, accessed her internet, ate some food and drank more wine and vodka.

At 5 p.m. the owner returned home and Hobkirk-Onate returned to the basement where he hid for two hours before deciding to steal the owner’s car and drive to Calgary. He covered his face with a T-shirt, went upstairs and encountered the frightened owner.

When the 76-year-old woman asked who he was and what he was doing in her home, he punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground. He then got on top of her and continued to punch her several more times.

The elderly woman tried to fight back, and even managed to scratch her attacker’s face, but he pinned her arms so he could freely punch her in the face.

Hobkirk-Onate took her car keys and went into the garage. He opened the garage door, but before he could get in the vehicle, the badly bleeding woman grabbed him. He knocked her to the ground again and struck her several more times in the head with the front tire of her bicycle. Then he sped away in her vehicle, leaving his victim with a broken nose, eyes swollen shut, bruises and a fractured skull.

Not long afterward, a police officer saw the stolen vehicle drive by. He stopped the vehicle and arrested the suspect, who was only wearing a pair of jeans that were stained with his victim’s blood. During interviews with police he confessed to breaking into the woman’s home and beating her.

Fox said the attack was particularly aggravating because it was prolonged and unnecessary and Hobkirk-Onate could have taken the woman’s vehicle at any time and avoided a confrontation.

“This is gratuitous violence,” Fox said. “He made the decision to be brutal when it was unnecessary.”

Hlady argued, however, that his client’s first option was only to hide in the home. He didn’t plan to terrorize or harm his victim, and he didn’t have any malicious or evil intent. He only resorted to violence when she blocked his escape to the garage.

Hlady pointed out Hobkirk-Onate suffers from various cognitive deficits, and his pre-sentence report refers to a “probable FASD diagnosis. He suggested his client’s moral culpability and his insight into, and understanding of, his actions are on the “very low” end of the spectrum.

Fox said, however, there is no documented evidence Hobkirk-Onate has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or that he was ever actually diagnosed.

Hobkirk, who sat motionless for most of the sentencing hearing, apologized to his victim’s family, three of whom sat in the courtroom only a few metres away.

“I just want to say that I’m sorry,” he said. “I have grandparent of my own, and I would never, never think or even start to think about hurting them the way I hurt (the victim).”

The woman’s sister told court in a victim impact statement, her sister was so badly beaten she couldn’t recognize her when she visited her in the hospital.

“I wanted to throw up,” she wrote.

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