Local briefs – December 9

A man charged with sexually assaulting and robbing an elderly woman has been deemed fit to stand trial.

Sexual assault suspect fit to stand trial

A man charged with sexually assaulting and robbing an elderly woman has been deemed fit to stand trial.

Jesse Peter Toews, 25, of Red Deer will have a trial date set on Dec. 22 following an appearance on Tuesday in Red Deer provincial court.

Judge David Plosz said a report from a psychiatrist indicated Toews is “fit to stand trial.”

The report is intended for use now by the defence and Crown.

Toews had been ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment in September but cutbacks at Alberta Hospital were believed partly to blame for the delay, defence lawyer Arnold Piragoff said earlier.

RCMP allege Toews pounced on an elderly woman and assaulted her about 9:30 a.m. on July 29 in a wooded area near 67th Street and 52nd Avenue. The woman’s purse and watch were stolen in the attack.

It is also alleged that Toews threw someone into a closet on Aug. 6. He then smashed a cellphone and fled the scene.

A cruelty to animals charge was also laid after Toews allegedly threw a kitten against a wall, killing the animal. Toews is charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement, robbery, making death threats and mischief to property and failing to appear in court.

Toews remains in custody.

Accused will be tried by judge alone

A Brooks man charged with attempted murder in Red Deer has elected to be tried by a judge alone.

Salah Reshid Hussain, 26, returns to court on Dec. 17 in an attempt to set a date for a preliminary hearing, court heard on Tuesday.

Defence lawyer Arnold Piragoff told court that his client will attempt to get his release on bail today in Court of Queen’s Bench.

Court heard at least eight witnesses may be called for the preliminary hearing, which probably can’t be heard until the end of March.

Hussain was charged in mid-November with attempting to shoot a 24-year-old woman in May 2007 at a Red Deer apartment complex.

The woman suffered minor injuries.

Police said earlier they believed the shooting was over an alleged drug debt.

Cocaine suspects reserve their pleas

A trio of Red Deer men charged in a major Alberta cocaine bust in October reserved their pleas again in Calgary.

Brent Mark Cyr, 21, Matthew Earles, 23, and Cameron O’Connell, 20, reserved their pleas when they appeared in provincial court on two charges each.

They are set to return to court on Jan. 12 to enter pleas on charges of possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking and production of a controlled substance, that is turning powder cocaine into crack cocaine.

Five other men charged in the Oct. 21 bust also return to court next month.

Police allege that the men were involved in supplying several criminal organizations and Alberta street gangs with large quantities of cocaine.

Police said the sting took $1.5 million worth of cocaine off the street, including 11.5 kg in separate busts.

The police allege the drug network spread across Canada and supplied drugs to various Canadian regions.

Arrest warrant issued

STETTLER — A trial for an Alberta man charged with stealing a quad and who was shot as he allegedly fled got off to a false start.

The judge thanked the witnesses gathered in Stettler for the trial Tuesday and then issued an arrest warrant for 31-year-old Harold Groening.

Groening and two other men were charged last spring with stealing a truck and a quad from a farm near the central Alberta community of Bashaw.

Farmer Brian Knight was also charged after shots were fired.

Knight, 38, faces seven charges related to the shooting, including assault causing bodily harm and pointing a firearm.

Knight’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for June.

Bombing suspects reserve their pleas

Two brothers charged with trying to blow up a woman in Johnstone Park in October reserved their pleas in separate court appearances on Tuesday.

Christopher Sinclair, 27, returns to court today to enter a plea while Kevin Scott Sinclair, 29, returns to court on Dec. 16.

Christopher Sinclair faces two charges of making explosives and one count of mischief endangering life.

Kevin Sinclair is charged with making explosives, causing an explosion and mischief endangering life.

A third Red Deer man charged in the incident pleaded guilty earlier to making explosives for an unlawful purpose. Michael Toews, 26, will be sentenced on Dec. 29 in provincial court.

The Sinclairs remain in custody and are charged separately.

They were charged in connection with an Oct. 20 incident in which RCMP allege that a homemade explosive device was detonated outside a residence on the 100 block of Jordan Parkway where a woman was living.

No one was injured in the explosion.

City residents set electricity usage record

Yes indeed, Red Deer consumers did manage to set a new record on Monday — and it’s probably going to cost them money down the road.

As anticipated, the city reached a new peak demand of 137 megawatts during the supper hour, said Ligong Gan, manager of the Electrical, Light and Power Department. That’s only slightly more than the record peak of 136 megawatts set on Jan. 8 of this year.

But it will push up the transmission fee the city pays to the Alberta Electric System Operator, calculated monthly and based on peak demand, said Gan.

He could not estimate how much more city consumers will pay because of the increase in peak demand, stating that December bills will be higher because of the overall increase in consumption. Transmission costs are shown on the line dealing with the demand charge, said Gan.

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