PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — A homeless woman who was viciously beaten before being set on fire says she worries her attacker will hurt someone else after a judge ruled Wednesday Leslie Black won't be designated a dangerous offender.
Black pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the beating, burning and sexual assault of Marlene Bird in an alley in Prince Albert, Sask., in 2014. Her injuries were so serious both legs had to be amputated and she lost much of her eyesight.
"He'll do that to somebody else," said Bird, who is 50, outside court Wednesday. "He's got to learn not to treat women like that."
She said it was painful to see her attacker but she felt it was important for Black to see her.
Ignored her while she was still on fire
"He just looked at me and looked down," Bird said. "Didn't say sorry."
Judge Stanley Loewen said in his ruling that after the 2014 attack, Black walked to a nearby 7-Eleven and bought candy. Black then walked past Bird, who was still on fire, and ignored her.
It was several hours before Bird was discovered and was barely clinging to life with burns so severe they exposed her facial bones.
"Her right foot was attached only by a piece of skin," Loewen said, noting the photos of her wounds were "quite disturbing."
He's got to learn not to treat women like that.Marlene Bird
Loewen ruled while Black's brutal crime warrants a lengthy jail sentence and a long-term supervision order, he felt his risk to reoffend could be managed in the community.
The judge will sentence Black on Sept. 22.
Bird told court in June she can't do anything on her own now, including simple things such as picking a blueberry or going to the bathroom.
In handwritten letters filed with the court, Bird said she has to wear adult diapers, can't control her bowels and feels disgusted with herself when she can't make it to the bathroom in time. Bird said she also fears entering the city because of the attack.
Victim and family haven't forgiven him
At a March court hearing, Black said if he could go back to the night he attacked Bird, he would have taken his father's advice and stayed home.
In a brief statement, which Black read despite a stutter he has had since witnessing his mother's murder when he was nine years old, Black said he understands that Bird and her family have not forgiven him.
"I apologize for what I did," he said at the time. "I still can't forgive myself."
Black said he is not a violent person and wants to get the help he needs to succeed in life.
"I'm usually a happy-go-lucky guy."
I still can't forgive myself.Leslie Black
A pyschiatrist told the dangerous offender hearing that Black has at least eight separate conditions, including antisocial personality disorder, childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and suspected fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Black's defence lawyer argued his client's actions were brutal, but said that does not mean Black will violently offend again.
One psychologist testified Black is not necessarily at a high risk to reoffend if he gets intensive, long-term therapy. But another psychiatrist testified that officials can't presume to understand Black and what he's capable of given what he did to Bird even though he had no history of violence.
— With files from CJME, CKBI
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