Bed cuts played part in remand beating

The closing of acute-care beds at a psychiatric hospital in part led to the severe beating of a man being held in connection with a sexual assault on a senior, Red Deer Court heard on Thursday.

The closing of acute-care beds at a psychiatric hospital in part led to the severe beating of a man being held in connection with a sexual assault on a senior, Red Deer Court heard on Thursday.

Lawyer Arnold Piragoff said his client was ordered by a judge three weeks ago to have a full psychiatric and physical assessment to determine his fitness to instruct a lawyer and stand trial on the numerous charges.

However, nothing has been done to help his client — who suffers from a bipolar condition and a split personality — receive the assessment, Piragoff said.

He said the Alberta government’s plan to close 246 acute-care beds in Alberta Hospital Edmonton is a factor.

Piragoff said his client wasn’t admitted to the hospital but instead was to receive a visit from a doctor at the Edmonton Remand Centre for the assessment.

The visit never occurred, and when other inmates discovered what the accused was charged with, he was severely beaten, having some teeth knocked out, Piragoff said.

Jesse Peter Toews, 25, of Red Deer, is accused of robbing and sexually assaulting an elderly Red Deer woman in late July.

RCMP allege that Toews pounced on the 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 killed a kitten by throwing it against a wall.

Piragoff told the judge that Toews’ mother told him earlier that her son suffered from a bipolar condition and has a split personality.

Toews has been charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement, robbery, making death threats and mischief to property. He also faces several other charges, including failing to appear in court.

Piragoff asked Judge Jim Mitchell to re-issue the order to have Toews examined at Alberta Hospital Ponoka but Crown prosecutor Murray McPherson said that hospital doesn’t examine people in custody accused of crimes.

Piragoff said his client is now in protective custody.

The court agreed with Piragoff that it was vital to have Toews returned to Red Deer court as soon as possible to decide what to do next.

Toews was to appear in Red Deer court again on Oct. 7 but the date was switched to today.

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