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Sentencing postponed in sex assault case
Bobby Robert Zoe to be sentenced April 11 for attacking woman on a downtown street

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Friday, April 6, 2012

A man convicted of sexually assaulting a young woman on a downtown Yellowknife street in January 2011 will wait until next week to find out his sentence in NWT territorial court.

NNSL photo/graphic

Bobby Robert Zoe awaits sentencing on charges of sexual assault, attempted robbery and breach of probation after grabbing a young woman on a Yellowknife street in January 2011. - NNSL file photo

Bobby Robert Zoe, 31, is scheduled to be sentenced April 11 by territorial court Judge Garth Malakoe.

Malakoe reserved his ruling on March 30 after listening to final submissions from the Crown, the defence, and hearing from Zoe himself.

Crown prosecutor Blair MacPherson read the agreed statement of facts, making the details of what happened on the evening of Jan. 2, 2011 public for the first time.

At about 8:20 p.m., a 23-year-old Yellowknife woman was walking along 53 Street near downtown when she observed Zoe walking behind her. She crossed to the other side of the street. He followed, and then ran up behind her, grabbed her and knocked her to the ground.

Zoe demanded money from the victim and assaulted her while holding one arm around her throat. The victim convinced him to loosen his grip on her throat by telling him she could not breathe. When he slackened his hold, she called for help.

Two men who live in a house nearby heard her scream, ran out of their house and, after attending briefly to the victim, chased Zoe to a nearby parking lot. Zoe, who was punched in the face during the struggle, struck one of the men in the head with a full wine bottle.

After lengthy court proceedings, where Zoe initially pleaded not guilty to the charges and asked for a Supreme Court trial by judge and jury, he pleaded guilty on Dec. 16 to sexual assault, attempted robbery and breaking conditions of his probation.

He was twice denied bail while awaiting the completion of his court proceedings.

The Crown is asking that the offender be sent to prison for three-and-a-half to four years, his DNA be entered into the national databank, and that he be registered in the national sex offender registry.

MacPherson said there were a number of aggravating circumstances in the case, including the opportunistic nature of the crime, and the fact that it happened on a public street.

"This is the second sentencing of this nature before the territorial court within two weeks," said MacPherson, referring to Anthony Griep, who was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on March 29 for sexually assaulting a woman on the Frame Lake Trail in 2010. "The court must attempt to restore or maintain the public's confidence."

In his final submissions, defence lawyer Tracy Bock told the court about Zoe's early life. Having been adopted by an elderly couple as a baby, he was raised in the small community of Gameti. His adoptive family maintained a traditional lifestyle and he was very close with his adoptive parents.

Some time after dropping out of school in Grade 10, Zoe made his way to Yellowknife, where he began to get into trouble with the law.

"He feels somewhat cursed by the influences of Yellowknife," Bock said of his client, who is in his early 30s.

When Malakoe asked the offender whether he had anything he wished to say to the court, Zoe - dressed in a long-sleeved green shirt and gray baggy sweatpants - stood and spoke in a very low voice. He spoke at length about his two prior convictions related to sexual violence - one for sexual assault and another for sexual interference with a person under the age of 14.

Regarding the charges he now faces, Zoe claimed responsibility but said his only explanation for his behaviour is that he doesn't remember the incident. He had travelled to Yellowknife with a friend to celebrate the Christmas and New Year's holidays shortly before committing the crime, and said that he had just received an income assistance cheque.

On the night of the assault, he had been drinking wine at a motel with three other people. He said he remembers walking out the hotel door to the street, running "for some reason" and then lying in the snow being punched and kicked.

"I don't remember why I'd want to rob somebody when I had money," said Zoe.

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