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Man jailed four years for sex assault

Videotaped statement used to convict assailant

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Inuvik (July 25/03) - An Inuvik man has been sentenced to four years in jail on charges of sexual assault and assault with a weapon.

Donald Corbett McLeod, 32, was found guilty following a two-day trial and a seven-hour jury deliberation.

The court heard testimony from witnesses and a videotaped statement from the victim who said over a three-day period, McLeod forced her to have intercourse, strangled her with a dog's choke chain, held a bread knife to her genitals and burned her repeatedly with a cigarette.

"He bruised me down there and held a knife against my privates," she said during the videotaped statement.

Under direct and cross-examination, the victim said she not recall the incidents of Feb. 8.

The victim's sister testified that the woman came to visit her following the attack and was visibly upset, with bruised ribs, burns and her neck was swollen and red. She prayed with her sister and urged her to call the police.

"I told her she shouldn't have to live like that," the woman told the court.

Before the defendant took the stand a voire dire (a trial within a trial) was held, because the defence wanted to have McLeod's criminal history "edited."

Defence attorney John MacFarlane thought McLeod's previous convictions for manslaughter, sexual assault and assault should not be mentioned to the jury, should they "convict on the basis of the previous convictions."

Crown attorney Caroline Carrasco argued that the 28 previous convictions showed "consistent breaches against the laws of this community."

Justice Ted Richard agreed with Carrasco and the previous record was outlined to the jury.

"To take that out would mislead the jury," Richard said, but added that one 16-year-old sexual assault charge should be edited out because it was so dated.

On the stand, McLeod denied all the victim's allegations. He said that all sex between himself and the victim was consensual and said that he was the real victim of assaults.

In closing statements, Carrasco said the court saw two versions of the victim, the one on the stand who was "difficult, uncooperative and hostile," and the one on the videotape, who was "scared and injured."

MacFarlane called the complainant's credibility into question, telling the jury that either she was lying on the witness stand, or she lied during the videotaped statement.

"It's simply too dangerous to convict this man on the basis of her testimony," MacFarlane said.

The jury of six men and six women left to deliberate at noon last Thursday and returned with the guilty verdict at 7:20 p.m.

In passing sentence, Richard handed down two and a half years for the assault with a weapon and four years to be served concurrent for the sexual assault conviction.