WINNIPEG — A man was sentenced to 23 years in prison Monday for randomly attacking two women in separate sexual assaults that left both victims with severe physical and emotional trauma.
Justin Hudson, 22, was given consecutive sentences for the attacks, which were committed with a teenage co-accused in different areas of Winnipeg on November 7, 2014 — a night that started with a plan to go out and steal cars, court was told.
"He was presented with an opportunity and brutalized each woman because he could not control his anger," provincial court Judge Tim Killeen said in handing down his sentence.
"The accused must be separated from society to protect others and to denounce his crime."
Hudson, along with a co-accused who is waiting to be sentenced, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault.
The first attack occurred when the two were walking down a street and came across a 16-year-old girl. They robbed, beat and sexually assaulted her. She ended up in the frigid Assiniboine River and dragged herself out 100 metres away, only to be beaten unconscious with a hammer and left for dead.
She was found the next morning by a passerby and spent days clinging to life in hospital. She later became an advocate for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.
Hours after the first attack, Hudson and his co-accused repeatedly beat and sexually assaulted a 23-year-old woman. She spent three days in hospital with severe injuries to her skull and other areas.
The victims and Hudson's co-accused, who was a minor at the time, cannot be named under a court order.
The Crown asked for a life sentence at a hearing last year, while the defence sought a sentence of 12 to 14 years.
Defence lawyer Amanda Sansregret noted that Hudson was neglected and sexually abused during his upbringing. A psychologist's report said he has a cognitive disability, had a lot of trouble in school and was bounced between several homes.
He was in the care of Child and Family Services and found himself suddenly without any support when he turned 18.
Killeen said a lengthy sentence, but not a life sentence, was justified for Hudson.
"His background, his limitations, his history of being abused and neglected, lead to a conclusion that his responsibility has not risen to the point where a life sentence is needed," the judge said.
"He will have the possibility of rehabilitation (and) a release at an age where he can have some semblance of a more-normal life."
With enhanced credit for time served, Hudson's sentence going forward is 19 years and four months.
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press