Foreign student appeals ruling
Teenager could face nine months in custody for sexual assault

Dawn Ostrem
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 17/00) - A 17-year-old foreign exchange student living in Yellowknife was sentenced to nine months in prison May 5 after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.

A bail-pending appeal was applied for and granted last Thursday.

The appeal list will be spoken to in court Friday.

Kelly Payne, the student's lawyer, is hoping to have the appeal heard in June.

An adult co-accused, also a foreign student, is scheduled to appear in Supreme Court on a charge of sexual assault in October for trial.

The student released on bail was 16 years old at the time of the offence that happened Oct. 3, 1999 after a night of drinking by all parties.

"If someone is so drunk they can't make an informed consent there is no consent," said Judge Michel Bourassa before announcing his ruling.

"(The accused) is an ordinary young man who made some very poor choices."

The student came to Canada in the summer of 1999 to study here and learn English. During the sentencing he required the use of translator.

During his trial on March 15 the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Although Payne argued the student's poor understanding of English, family support and a positive impression from his guarantor should come into play during sentencing, as well as three case law items in which similar circumstances resulted in light sentences, the accused was sentenced to four months secure and five months of open custody. The Crown suggested he serve 18 months.

After charges were laid the boy's return plane ticket and passport were seized by RCMP. He was also required to report to police on a daily basis.