By Delon Shurtz on November 24, 2020.
A 23-year-old man convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting a woman and cutting her throat has walked away from an Edmonton treatment centre.
The man, who can’t be named because he was only 17 when he committed the offences, had been approved to participate in a residential treatment program in the capital city earlier this year, but he walked away during the summer and hasn’t been heard from since.
“Mr. (accused) has been AWOL since July,” Crown prosecutor Lisa Weich said Monday during a brief hearing in Lethbridge provincial court.
The case was last in Lethbridge provincial court in June, when Judge Gregory Maxwell agreed to move the man from custody into community supervision to allow him to participate in the treatment program.
The court was scheduled to review the man’s status Monday, and consider amending conditions of the community portion of his sentence. The matter was adjourned, however, to allow more time for police to find and arrest him so he can attend a subsequent court hearing.
The man was sentenced in December 2018 to a three-year Intensive Rehabilitative Custodial Supervision order and two years probation on charges of sexual assault, break and enter to commit sexual assault, threats to cause death and unlawful confinement.
During the early morning hours of May 3, 2015, the man entered a southside apartment in Lethbridge where he found the woman sleeping on a couch. He began sexually assaulting her before the woman’s stepfather awoke and confronted him. The man dragged her outside at knife point, continued to assault his victim, then cut her throat and fled.
The woman survived the slash, but she and her stepfather died of unrelated causes before the trial began. In previous statements to police, however, the stepfather described the assailant and provided his address. Police searched his home and found a shirt stained with the victim’s DNA.
Following his first year in custody, the offender was released to live in a halfway house under community supervision, but in January he breached conditions of his release order for being under the influence of non-prescribed medication.
He was arrested and returned to custody, but released again to the halfway house in April, before being arrested a second time for failing to follow quarantine rules. He was still in custody when the judge released him in June on a new plan to attend the Stan Daniels Healing Centre, a 72-bed community residential healing lodge for conditionally released and federally sentenced Indigenous inmates.
Lethbridge lawyer Scott Hadford supported the recommendation in June that his client be released to attend the healing centre, and said it would help him prepare to reintegrate back into society when his sentence ends in December 2021. During Monday’s hearing, Hadford said he hadn’t heard from his client and didn’t have any instructions to present the judge.
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