Offender’s hearing delayed

A lack of government psychiatric resources has forced delay of a hearing pertaining to a man convicted earlier this year of sexually assaulting an elderly woman.

A lack of government psychiatric resources has forced delay of a hearing pertaining to a man convicted earlier this year of sexually assaulting an elderly woman.

Jesse Peter Toews, 26, of Red Deer was ordered to undergo a 60-day psychiatric assessment in Red Deer court on Feb. 17.

However, the assessment still hasn’t occurred because of a shortage of resources, Justice Dennis Thomas heard Thursday.

“There’s been no bed for him and they are overloaded,” Red Deer Chief Crown prosecutor Anders Quist told court, in reference to Alberta Health Services.

A forensic psychiatrist performs an assessment when ordered by the court.

A written report is forwarded to the courts addressing fitness along with recommendations for continued care.

The assessment is a necessary step when the Crown seeks to have a person declared a dangerous or long-term offender,

Toews, who remains in custody, was convicted in January of sexually assaulting a 77-year-old woman on July 29, 2009, on a secluded path northwest of 67th Street and Gaetz Avenue in Red Deer.

Toews was ordered to return to Court of Queen’s Bench on June 6 to hopefully set a date for the hearing.

The original order was due to expire on May 12 but Thomas extended the order for another 30 days as allowed by the Criminal Code of Canada.

Thomas said his order to the government is to give Toews’ assessment priority.

Toews told court he waited a week in the assessment centre for a bed but other urgent cases kept pushing him to the bottom of the list.

During the judge-alone trial, the woman, now 79, said she remembered asking for God’s help when her attacker grabbed her from behind and put a hand over her mouth.

A key piece of Crown evidence was that DNA from semen found on the clothes of the victim was about 12 billion to one that it would have belonged to anyone else but Toews.

Justice Monica Bast acquitted Toews of robbery and unlawful confinement following the trial.

Toews had about two dozen prior convictions for various property crimes and crimes against people before the latest conviction.

If he is declared a long-term offender, Toews faces a lengthy period of intensive supervision in the community, immediately following a fixed prison term. If declared a dangerous offender, Toews would be in jail indefinitely.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com