July 20th, 2024

Man facing sex-related charges remains in custody waiting on treatment facility

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 16, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 59-year-old Lethbridge man who is facing violent, sex-related charges, but was recently granted bail, still remains in custody while he continues to wait to get into a treatment facility.

Bernard Alonzo Gibson was granted bail more than a week ago, but his release was contingent on the availability of a bed at the Opportunity Home Treatment Recovery Centre in Drayton Valley. During a hearing this week in Lethbridge court of justice, Calgary lawyer Kirsten Lancee said the accused is still waiting.

“We’re just teeing up the residential treatment bed, which is why he’s remaining in custody,” Lancee said.

Lancee said the continuation of a pre-trial conference to discuss issues with counsel and a judge is scheduled for Feb. 27. Dates for a trial will also be determined during the conference, as well as dates to hear a defence application for severance, which would require Gibson to have two trials, one for each of the alleged victims, instead of one trial for both of them.

“The severance argument has been filed on behalf of the defence,” Lancee added.

Although the Crown was opposed to Gibson’s release from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre, Justice Jerry LeGrandeur agreed to let the accused attend the centre, which is about 140 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

LeGrandeur pointed out, however, that if Gibson does not complete the program or is discharged from the centre, he must turn himself into the nearest police station or he may be charged with breaching conditions of his release.

Gibson is charged with two counts of unlawful confinement, and single counts of assault, sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault in relation to alleged offences against two women.

Police reported that on May 18 of last year police went to a residence in the 1500 block of 16 Avenue South after receiving a report from the landlord that there was an injured woman in the basement. EMS transported the 30-year-old victim to Chinook Regional Hospital, where she was admitted for treatment of extensive injuries.

Police said the woman met a man earlier in the month outside of Lethbridge and was driven into the city. She was taken to the Southside home, unlawfully confined and repeatedly s assaulted for four days.

While police were at the home conducting an investigation, a man matching the suspect’s description returned and was arrested without incident.

Gibson is also charged with failing to comply with bail conditions, which stems from a previous incident last March in relation to another woman. Police said a woman was held against her will and assaulted for two days before she was able to escape.

Gibson pleaded not guilty to all the charges in November, and elected to be tried in Alberta Court of Justice.

The matter is set to return to court March 1 to confirm whether the accused has been admitted to the recovery centre.

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