A Red Deer man convicted of sexually assaulting an elderly woman was continually bullied as a child and was unable to manage his temper or appreciate the consequences of his actions, witnesses said during the opening day of his sentencing hearing on Tuesday.
Jesse Peter Toews, 27, was convicted in January 2011 of sexually assaulting a 77-year-old woman on July 29, 2009, while she was walking on a secluded path in the Red Deer subdivision of Glendale. The victim’s identity is protected under a court-imposed publication ban.
Pointing to his criminal record, which has been admitted as an exhibit in the hearing, Crown lawyers Anders Quist and Charlotte Oxford have asked that Toews’ sentence include having him declared a dangerous offender. Being declared a dangerous offender would mean that there would be no limit on the amount of time Toews will spend in prison.
The sentencing hearing, expected to take 21 court days over a period of five weeks, commenced on Tuesday after a series of delays, including a shortage of resources to complete a 60-day psychiatric assessment. Family members were among the first people called to testify in the hearing, being held in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before Justice Monica Bast.
Court heard that Toews, raised through his early years by his mother and her second husband, suffered a number of difficulties, including a hearing problem, which was eventually corrected, and being continually teased and bullied by school children.
Toews and his younger brother were eventually removed from the public school system and offered home schooling. He was under a psychiatrist’s care for part of his childhood and was prescribed medications to help him deal with his outbursts.
He lived with his mother and stayed frequently with his stepfather after their marriage broke up and was later placed in foster care.
Witnesses said Toews was normally well behaved, but could become combative and had a number of fits of bad temper, including an incident while he was in his teens during which he shoved his mother against a wall and later threw a brick through a window of her boyfriend’s vehicle.
All said that, to their knowledge, Toews did not have any serious issues with alcohol or drugs, describing him as a moderate drinker and marijuana user.
Court also heard about an incident during which Toews and his half brother, who is three years younger than him, were lured away from their family home by a stranger and held captive in a shed for two days before the stepfather found and rescued them.
In a separate incident, various witnesses discussed a fight that broke out between Toews and his half brother while they were having Christmas dinner with Toews’ stepfather.
The sentencing hearing continues today, to include witnesses who will testify to Toews’ criminal record. Experts will be called later to discuss his mental state.