Norfolk County teen to be sentenced as adult for 'reign of terror'

Justice Kevin Sherwood



SIMCOE, Ont. -- A Norfolk County youth who put a woman and her young son through "a prolonged reign of terror" when he attacked them in their country home will be sentenced as an adult.

The teen "committed horrific offences," Judge Kevin Sherwood said, and the public has "the right to expect accountability of all its citizens, even our youngest citizens."

Sherwood said the viciousness of the two-hour assault two years ago, which he called a deliberate attempt to murder the woman and her son, puts the teen's "moral culpability at the very high end of the scale."

Sherwood's decision means the teen, who was 17 at the time and who pleaded guilty last August, faces a longer sentence for attempted murder and sexual assault than he would normally get.

The Crown has asked for 10 years, while the defence lawyer Mike McArthur suggested a term of between six and eight. The most he could have received as a youth is three years.

Sherwood is expected to bring down his decision March 12.

Court heard how the accused threatened the woman at knifepoint at her home near Langton, Ont., sexually assaulted and stabbed her, and broke her skull before setting the house on fire, with the victim and her five-year-old son trapped inside.

When the mother broke free from the bedpost she was tied to and escaped, the teen pushed her to the ground and stood on her neck.

The pair were finally saved after two passersby saw the smoke and flames and stopped to help.

Court heard the teen has low intelligence, functions below his real age of 19 and struggled in high school.

He was friends with the victim's teenaged son and got into a fight with him days before the attack a girl.

The teen told psychologists following his arrest that he "snapped" after he approached the victim in her driveway where she asked him about the fight and scolded him about his family.

Since being arrested, he has been in custody at Sprucedale Youth Centre in Simcoe where he has been polite and co-operative, has undergone therapy and achieved numerous high school credits.

But assistant Crown attorney Gracie Romano credited the strength of the victim and the "good graces" of passersby for preventing an even worse tragedy.

"We could have been here working on sentencing of two counts of first-degree murder," Romano noted.

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