Former Edmonton nightclub employee appeals sex assault conviction

Former Edmonton nightclub employee appeals sex assault conviction

EDMONTON — A former Edmonton nightclub employee who was found guilty of sexually assaulting five women is appealing the convictions.

Matthew McKnight, who is 33, was sentenced last month to eight years in prison.

The Crown earlier this month gave notice that it is appealing the sentence on the ground that it is “demonstrably unfit.”

McKnight’s lawyer, Dino Bottos, said the defence team filed a notice of appeal on Monday.

A copy of the notice, provided to The Canadian Press, shows the defence will challenge McKnight’s conviction by arguing that the Crown’s cross-examination of McKnight was “abusive, demeaning, prejudicial” and caused a miscarriage of justice.

The notice also suggests some evidence against McKnight was erroneously admitted.

McKnight was accused of sexually assaulting 13 women ranging in age from 17 to 22 between 2010 and 2016. He pleaded not guilty. A jury convicted him on five counts.

Crown prosecutors had asked for a total sentence of 22 1/2 years, while McKnight’s lawyer had recommended five to nine years.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Doreen Sulyma assessed 16 1/2 years for the five counts — a number she reduced to eight years based on McKnight’s “moral blameworthiness” and his “excellent chances to rehabilitate.” She also took into account that while waiting for bail, he was attacked by an inmate while at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

“A sentence of 16 1/2 years simply exceeds what would be just and appropriate,” she said in her decision.

The reduced sentence caused outbursts in the courtroom, with one woman yelling, “You guys are monsters.”

Court had heard that McKnight met most of the women in bars and assaulted them at his apartment. Several victims told court that they have had nightmares, thoughts of suicide and anxiety since they were attacked.

The victims’ names are protected by a publication ban.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2020

The Canadian Press

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