WINNIPEG — A teen who took part in two brutal, high-profile sex attacks in Winnipeg — one of which left a girl clinging to life on the banks of a river — has been sentenced to 17 years in jail.
Robert McKay, who was 17 at the time of the random attacks on a teen and a woman in November 2014, was sentenced as an adult Wednesday after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault last year.
Justice Gerald Chartier gave McKay nine years for each assault. He took one year off because he noted McKay had no previous criminal record, has shown remorse, pleaded guilty, and suffers from cognitive difficulties.
“While there are mitigating factors… the egregious nature of these crimes and its impact on the complainants require a lengthy period of incarceration,” Chartier said. “Mr. McKay was a willing and active participant.”
The sentence includes credit for time served so McKay will be behind bars for just under 13 years.
Court has heard McKay and his cousin, Justin Hudson, went out to celebrate McKay’s birthday the night of Nov. 8, 2014, planning to steal cars.
They first came upon a 16-year-old girl, and beat and robbed her. McKay held her down while Hudson sexually assaulted her. She ended up in the Assiniboine River, crawled out 100 metres downstream and was attacked again with a hammer.
Court heard the temperature was -11 C with the windchill at the time.
A passerby found her hours later. She was technically dead for 45 minutes before being revived in hospital, and would go on to become an advocate for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.
“I have spent a lot of time in hospitals since you attacked me, repairing injuries to my body,” the teen wrote in a victim impact statement read at Hudson’s sentencing hearing in December 2016. “I have scars on most of my limbs, everyday reminders of that night.
“I feel sad. Angry. Confused. It’s more than those words can possibly convey. The pain is a heavy weight for me to carry.”
A few hours later, the pair came across a 23-year-old woman. They beat her severely and repeatedly sexually assaulted her. She spent three days in hospital with a concussion and facial injuries.
“At the time it was happening, I was so scared,” the woman wrote in her victim impact statement, also read at Hudson’s sentencing hearing.
“I did my best to ‘act’ as they wanted me to out of fear that they would hurt me even more. This made me so disgusted with myself and I hated my body for such a long time after.”
Both sexual assaults involved ”gratuitous violence” using weapons and were “beyond brutal,” Chartier told the court Wednesday.
The defence had asked for a seven-year sentence, minus three and a half years for the time McKay has spent in custody. The Crown had asked for a 20-year sentence minus time served.
At his sentencing hearing earlier this year, McKay wept and apologized for what he had done.
“I feel really bad, really frickin’ bad for what I did,” McKay said at the February hearing. “I know what (the victims) went through. I went through it for five years by my own uncle.”