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Man found guilty of New Year's sex assault

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 13/06) - A man was sentenced to four years in prison last Thursday after a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting his host at a New Year's Eve party.

In sentencing Dean Robbiard, 40, on charges of sexual assault and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, Justice Louise Charbonneau said the rate of sexual assault in the NWT is "some might say reaching epidemic proportions. It is a sad state of affairs."

The crime occurred on Jan. 1, 2006 after a New Year's Eve party held at the victim's house. She had several friends over and they were all drinking.

The other guests at the party left just before 12 a.m. to attend another party, leaving the accused alone with the victim.

According to one witness, Robbiard was "a little angry" when everyone left because he wanted them to stay and celebrate New Year's at midnight.

The plan was for Robbiard to stay in the spare room, as he was intoxicated, according to witnesses.

The victim testified that her last memory was of sitting on the couch in the living room.

The next thing she recalled was waking up to find Robbiard having sex with her. She protested and was smothered by a blanket or a piece of clothing.

After, Robbiard began pacing, talking of suicide. He held a knife and asked her to stab him.

The victim escaped to her sister's house, who called police.

"You stripped 24 years of memories from me," the victim wrote in an impact statement. "Not once did you ever show any remorse."

She wrote that it took several months before she could stand to sleep in her own bedroom, where the assault happened.

In her sentencing submission, Crown counsel Shannon Smallwood presented Robbiard's criminal record, which included five violent offences.

"He has a significant record of violence," said Smallwood.

Sexual assault when the victim is intoxicated "is too common in this jurisdiction," she added.

Smallwood added that this case went beyond sexual assault as the victim said she was smothered after she regained consciousness and started protesting.

"This elevates it beyond a simple sexual assault," said Smallwood.

Defence counsel Michael Hansen said Robbiard was committed to his wife and three children as well as his career as a truck driver. Hansen asked for a sentence of 18-24 months.

"He knows he's going to jail today," said Hansen, "but he knows life is not over. He is a better and stronger person now."

Charbonneau credited Robbiard 10 months against his four year sentence for the five months he spent in jail waiting for trial.