Disclaimer: this story contains graphic details
WINNIPEG – A man who brutally beat and sexually assaulted a Winnipeg woman and a teenage girl in random, separate attacks deserves a prison sentence, but not a life sentence, his lawyer told court Friday.
Justin Hudson, 22, is himself a victim of Manitoba’s child welfare system and suffered severe neglect and abuse as a youngster, Amanda Sansregret told his sentencing hearing.
“If there was ever a failure of Child and Family Services to protect a child, Mr. Hudson could be a poster child,” she said.
Hudson, along with a co-accused who is being sentenced separately, have pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault for the attacks in November 2014 that made national headlines for their brutality.
The first attack was on a 16-year-old girl, who was robbed, beaten and sexually assaulted. She ended up in the Assiniboine River and dragged herself out 100 metres away, only to be beaten unconscious with a hammer and left for dead.
Hours later, Hudson and his co-accused came across a 23-year-old woman and repeatedly beat and sexually assaulted her. She spent three days in hospital.
The victims in the case and Hudson’s co-accused, who was a minor at the time, cannot be named under a court order. The first victim became an advocate for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.
Crown attorney Debbie Buors asked Hudson receive life in prison with no parole eligibility for seven years. She called the attacks predatory and callous, with “sadistic intent.”
“His moral blameworthiness is very high,” Buors told court.
Sansregret referred to a psychologist’s report that said Hudson reported being sexually abused as a child and raised in a home without love and little food or security. He has a cognitive disability, had trouble in school and was bounced between several homes.
The child welfare system failed to help Hudson and, once he became an adult, all help was cut off, Sansregret said.
“His upbringing was tragic and unusual.”
Sansregret asked for a sentence of 12 to 14 years, and told court that Hudson is remorseful and wants counselling and other treatment.
“He has said to me … I’m willing to work with whoever I need to work with in order to make sure this never happens again.”
Hudson sat in court quietly and declined an opportunity to address the court.
Provincial court Judge Tim Killeen did not set a date for his decision.