WINNIPEG — A teen who viciously assaulted two workers at the Behavioural Health Foundation in Selkirk, Man., last spring has been given an adult sentence.
Court was told that Lionel Harper, 17, was the main player in the attack which left Jackie Healey and her coworker with lasting physical injuries and emotional trauma.
Harper, who had pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault, was sentenced to six years in prison.
Judge Dale Schille told court the level of violence involved is at the upper-end of the spectrum and approaches what the courts recognize as "an offence of stark horror."
Healey was left with permanent vision loss in her left eye while her co-worker was beaten with a sock containing what was believed to be a pool ball and pretended to be dead to avoid further injury.
Healey's father, John, was in court on his daughter's behalf, saying she was too traumatized to sit through the proceedings.
But he said she was pleased with the sentence.
“At least it was adult sentencing,” he said. “She wasn’t really up to coming. She wasn’t doing that well the last few days…I guess worried about the sentencing and everything, facing him and that, so she decided not to come.”
Crown attorney Lisa Carson told court Healey, who had been on the last day of a work placement program at the addictions centre, doesn't remember who attacked her or what happened.
“She came to in a big pool of blood,” Carson told court.
Healey barricaded herself in an office until police arrived, while her co-worker ran for help at a home on the grounds of the facility.
In Healey’s victim impact statement, read out in court by the Crown, she said losing her vision was the hardest part.
“For Lionel it probably started and ended on that night. For me it was just a little piece of the beginning of a horrible life change,” Healey wrote. “This person had me fooled, thinking he was a nice young man when in fact he was the devil in disguise.”
The judge said Harper’s upbringing had to be taken into account.
Court heard he was exposed to violence and substance abuse as a child, and was bullied in school for being poor.
“You have been disadvantaged as an aboriginal person in all the classic ways that are recognized by the courts,” Schille said. “I have no hesitation in accepting that as a fair and appropriate sentence.”
Two other youths have already been sentenced in the case.