N.S. judge declares Labrador man, Sem Paul Obed, dangerous offender

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The sentence was handed down to Sem Paul Obed on Friday at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
The sentence was handed down to Sem Paul Obed on Friday at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.

A Labrador man with a history of violent sexual assaults has been declared a dangerous offender and will be locked up indefinitely.

Sem Paul Obed, 50, was sentenced Friday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court for an attack on a woman in Halifax three years ago.

The woman awoke to find Obed naked, but for shoes and a baseball cap, standing next to her bed. According to evidence at his sentencing, Obed proceeded to beat, rape and threaten the woman, dragging her around the home by her hair.

"[T]he predicate offence in this case was one of horrific depravity with the violation, injury and degradation inflicted upon the victim," Justice Robert Wright said in his sentencing decision.

The woman tried, but was unable to file a victim impact statement to aid the judge in his sentencing considerations.

"She did make an effort to undertake a victim impact statement, but it was extremely traumatic given the severity of harm that was caused on her," Crown prosecutor Carla Ball said Friday.

"So he [the judge] factored that into his decision when contemplating the dangerous offender sentence regime and made the appropriate findings that he did."

Obed was arrested shortly after the June 2018 assault and has been in custody ever since.

Sentencing factors

He pleaded guilty to four charges in relation to the incident, including aggravated sexual assault. The Crown then served notice they wanted him sentenced as a dangerous offender, a designation imposed on the country's most violent criminals and sexual predators.

In determining the proper sentence, Wright said he had to consider several factors, including Obed's heritage as an Inuk man with a difficult childhood.

Halifax Regional Police
Halifax Regional Police

Obed was exposed to sexual, physical and alcohol abuse in his family home in Labrador. He also attended a residential day school where he was taught in English and lost the ability to communicate with his parents.

The court was told the family lived in extreme poverty in a very unstable situation.

Obed started drinking homemade moonshine by age 12, and he and his siblings were all sexually active by the time they each turned 13. It was around that same age that Obed began committing crimes.

One element of his youth that was noted by both the judge and the forensic psychiatrist who assessed him for the court was that Obed said his father forced him to go out in the community to find victims and lure them back to the home so that his father could abuse them.

Hatred toward women

Obed spoke of his hatred toward women during an assessment, telling psychiatrist Dr. Grainne Neilson that he views "them as sex objects, just there for the sex."

The judge rejected a sentencing proposal from Obed's lawyers of a fixed prison term followed by a period of close supervision in the community.

"I have no hesitation in finding that Mr. Obed, by his past conduct, has shown a failure to control his sexual impulses and that if he so fails in the future (of which there is a likelihood), he is likely to cause injury, pain or other evil to other persons as a result of such failures," the judge said.

Obed's name is now on the national sex offender registry and his DNA is in a national databank.

"What today boils down to is public safety," Crown prosecutor Sean McCarroll said outside court Friday.

"And by declaring Mr. Obed a dangerous offender and imposing an indeterminate sentence, that really is the only way the public can be properly protected from an individual such as Mr. Obed."

While his prison term is an indefinite one, he can apply for parole after seven years. But he will have to convince the parole board that his dangerous, violent impulses are under control.

If he fails to convince the board at that time, his case will be reviewed every two years after that.

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