Canada briefs – August 4

It’s not clear whether Harvey Sanderson was targeted for a fatal beating because he was disabled, but he couldn’t have put up much of a fight in what police say was a violent robbery inside his apartment.

Disabled man dies after beating

WINNIPEG — It’s not clear whether Harvey Sanderson was targeted for a fatal beating because he was disabled, but he couldn’t have put up much of a fight in what police say was a violent robbery inside his apartment.

The 27-year-old had brittle bone disease and used a wheelchair to get around. He died Wednesday, four days after a health-care aide found him severely injured in his suite.

He was taken to a Winnipeg hospital where he spent his last days in intensive care. It’s not clear whether he ever regained consciousness.

The attack on a virtually defenceless person had many people wondering what could have prompted it.

“In fact, I’ve had emails from members of the disability community. The news is going around quickly,” said Jim Derksen, a policy adviser with the Winnipeg-based Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

Police haven’t released many details except that Sanderson met a man and woman outside his apartment building Friday night and invited them inside for drinks. Only a few personal items were stolen, so police are questioning whether robbery was the motive.

They won’t say whether Sanderson was ever able to talk with investigators.

“It’s in the middle of what may be a homicide investigation, and that’s the kind of information that’s critical, and I’m just not in a position to be able to release it at this very early stage,” Const. Robert Carver said.

Police arrested Bobbi Melissa McKay and John Raven Ward, both 27, and charged them with robbery and aggravated assault. McKay has also been charged with failing to obey a probation order, while Ward is accused of being unlawfully at large due to an outstanding arrest warrant.

The charges may be upgraded once police receive autopsy results, Carver said.


Murder charge laid in Canadian woman’s death

SYDNEY, Australia — Australian media report that a murder charge has been laid after a Canadian woman died in a fall from a high-rise balcony.

The reports say 30-year-old Lisa Harnum plunged from a 15th-floor balcony on Saturday and that her fiance, Simon Gittany, has been charged with murder.

A bail hearing in Sydney heard that the couple had an argument minutes before Harnum went over the balcony. A neighbour reportedly heard her screaming for help.

Gittany’s lawyer, David Price, told the court that Harnum made her own way to the balcony, Gittany tried to get her back inside but she slipped and fell.

Media reports say a police prosecutor alleged a passerby heard an argument, looked up and witnessed a motion more consistent with a push.

The reports say the couple were engaged.

Gittany was denied bail Wednesday, and was ordered to appear in court on September 29.


Girls found in secret compartment not held against their will: police

PICCADILLY, N.L. — Police in western Newfoundland say there’s no indication two girls found hidden in a secret compartment under a ramshackle, rural home were being held against their will.

Brian Benoit of Picadilly was arrested Monday after police found the girls — ages 12 and 13 — in a dirt-floor crawl space under the home’s living room.

Benoit has been charged with supplying youth with alcohol and breaching a court order that prohibits him from being alone with anyone under the age of 16.

On Wednesday, police released photos of the home, showing a carpet-covered trap door leading to a dingy enclosure beneath the home

RCMP Cpl. Joe Anderson says the case is still under investigation.

The 41-year-old accused is scheduled to attend a bail hearing Thursday in Stephenville, N.L.

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