TORONTO - A "troubled" man who snatched a sleeping five-year-old girl from her bed and sexually assaulted her in a neighbour's yard violated her sense of security "in the most vile way," an Ontario judge found Thursday in sentencing him to seven years in prison.
Ryan Belbin, 31, was found guilty in October of breaking and entering, abduction of a person under 14, sexual assault and sexual interference in the 2011 Boxing Day incident, though he maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
Belbin's actions have caused severe "emotional and psychological distress" for the girl and her family, Judge Nola Garton noted in giving her decision. While the girl's physical injuries were limited to scrapes and bruises, "it is not known what the long-term psychological impact of the offences will be on her," she said.
"As a result of her groggy state of mind when she was abducted, and the fact that her father carried her back into the house after the assault, the victim believes that her father was responsible for taking her outside in the middle of the night, putting his hand over her mouth and hurting her," Garton said.
After seeking professional advice, the girl's parents have decided not to tell her the truth, believing it would be more traumatizing for her to hear a stranger abducted her from her bed, the judge said.
"It is not known how the victim's mistaken belief may affect her relationship with her father in the future, but it has certainly posed a painful dilemma for her parents and added to their level of stress."
Belbin, who's from Toronto, has been in custody since his arrest in early 2012, which means he has two years and four months left to serve behind bars.
He also faces a lifetime ban on going to public parks where children under 16 may be, seeking work where he would have authority over someone under 16, having unsupervised contact with someone under 16 and possessing firearms. he will also be added to the sex offender registry.
"It is not known if Mr. Belbin was driven to commit the offences because he is a pedophile or whether he suffers from some other undiagnosed paraphilia or mental disorder," Garton said.
"He appears to be a troubled individual but there is no indication that he recognizes or has addressed any mental health issues from which he may suffer," despite several previous arrests under the Mental Health Act, she said.
Nor was there any indication that he was in any way impaired at the time of the kidnapping, the judge said.
The victim, who cannot be publicly identified, had been visiting Toronto from Connecticut with relatives at the time of the assault.
Court heard Belbin entered the home in the city's north end around 3 a.m. on Boxing Day after finding the door unlocked.
He went upstairs to the room where the girl and her sister were sleeping, took the child and carried her to the backyard of the house across the street, court heard.
The girl's parents woke up and launched a "frantic search," which eventually led her father to find her outside, naked, with a stranger "hunkering" over her, court heard.
Startled, the stranger tossed the girl toward her father and fled.
Belbin was arrested weeks later after consenting to a DNA test, which matched him to DNA found on the girl's pyjama top.
Garton said she took Belbin's lack of a criminal record into account in her sentencing, as well as his continuing denial of guilt.