Saturday, October 10, 2009

Proposed 7 year sentence may not be enough - Canadian judge

By: Mike McIntyre (Winnipeg Free Press) 8/10/2009 1:00 AM

A Manitoba judge says seven years in prison for a high-risk rapist who randomly attacked a woman outside a Winnipeg shopping mall may not be severe enough.

Queen's Bench Justice Chris Martin said Wednesday he has serious concerns about the proposed sentence agreed to by prosecution and defence lawyers.

"I'm normally very respectful of joint recommendations, especially from senior counsel. But my overriding concerns are protection of the public and rehabilitation," said Martin. He has reserved his decision until Oct. 16.

Garron Scott, 22, has pleaded guilty to sexual assault for the February 2007 incident outside Portage Place. Crown attorney John Barr told court Scott attacked an 18-year-old woman as she was walking to her parked car. Scott forced the woman inside the vehicle, choked her with a seatbelt strap and violently raped her while threatening to kill her.

The victim managed to escape and ran half-naked into the downtown mall for help, court was told. Police linked Scott to the attack by matching his DNA to hair samples they found on a hat he left behind. Scott's DNA was already in the national database because of a previous crime in Ontario where he attacked a 73-year-old man, choked him with a seatbelt strap and stole his car.

Scott told justice officials he attacked the woman because he wanted sex and didn't think he'd get caught.

He has spent the past 30 months in custody, which Crown and defence lawyers say should be given double-time credit of 60 months, followed by two more years behind bars. Scott would then be placed on three years of supervised probation. Defence lawyer Darren Sawchuk told court Wednesday his client has made positive strides since his arrest, including completion of a sex offender treatment program at Headingley Correctional Centre. He said Scott recently admitted to officials he was sexually abused as a child, which contributed to his offending behaviour.

Scott would be a candidate for acceptance into Manitoba's high-risk offender unit upon his release from jail. The group works closely with convicted sex offenders to re-integrate them into society.

"I think he's made a good first step at Headingley, but it's just a first step. He's just scratched the surface," Linda Lafontaine, the program's area director, told court.

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