June 13th, 2024

Crown seeks dangerous offender status for Michael Delmas after sexual assault conviction

By Peggy Revell on June 22, 2018.

prevell@medicinehatnews.com @MHNprevell

A Medicine Hat man will be assessed for dangerous offender status after being found guilty Friday of a 2015 sexual assault.

The conviction of Michael Delmas follows a two-day trial in May at the Medicine Hat Provincial Court, where a 32-year-old complainant testified that Delmas was a friend, and that he came over to her apartment one night high on methamphetamine and sexually assaulted her.

Delmas testified in his own defence, saying the complainant was also on meth at the time — which he had provided — and they had consensual sexual relations and were dating.

Crown made a surprising argument during sentencing, asking the judge to believe Delmas’ testimony and still make a finding of guilt as the woman was too intoxicated to give consent.

In Friday’s decision, Judge Gordan Krinke rejected Crown’s argument, calling it an “approach based on tactical advantage.” Instead, Krinke said he found the accused’s testimony neither credible nor reliable.

Delmas’ scenario is “difficult to accept,” said Krinke, pointing to the accused’s testimony of memory loss while being high on meth, and how memories of the night in question came back months later after being sober.

The accused “may believe them to be true,” said Krinke, while also noting logical inconsistencies with Delmas’ testimony, including how the complainant took the meth, and when verbal consent was obtained for sexual activity.

In contrast, Krinke found the complainant to be a reliable and credible witness, believing her testimony that on the day of the assault she had only consumed marijuana, and therefore her ability to recount what occurred was not hindered.

The complainant was also “candid and forthright” said Krinke, about being significantly impaired and unable to remember details about a second alleged sexual assault. This second charge was dismissed mid-trial due to lack of evidence.

Inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony, such as whether or not she called out for help for a friend who was asleep in a bedroom, were not enough to “significantly compromise credibility,” said Krinke.

Other inconsistencies defence counsel put forward to question the complainant’s credibility — including sexual relations with Delmas on two different occasions despite testimony that she didn’t want a relationship with him, and her continuing to be around Delmas alone when she knew he could be violent while on meth —  are part of “outdated perception of women’s sexuality” and “stereotypical reasoning,” said Krinke, that the judiciary must consider when deciding a sexual assault case.

Delmas was found not guilty of simple assault for a roughhousing incident which started off as consensual, but allegedly proceeded to him choking the complainant.

Delmas will be sent to the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre for a 60-day evaluation, as the Crown looks to have him designated as a dangerous offender. This hearing will take place on Oct. 4.

Delmas was previously convicted of two other sexual assaults, including a 28-month jail sentence in 2007 after pleading guilty to sexual assault of a woman in the downtown pedestrian underpass, and a 2010 conviction of involving a 14-year-old girl where he was sentenced to four years of jail.

A dangerous offender designation can be considered if an accused receives a third conviction of a sexual offence and if the previous two resulted in jail terms of two or more years. If a dangerous offender designation is granted, the court can impose an indeterminate sentence with no chance of parole for seven years, a regular sentence with an additional long-term supervision order or simply a regular sentence.

Delmas originally entered guilty pleas to the two counts of sexual assault and choking for the 2015 incident one month after his arrest without a lawyer, against the advice of duty counsel and the presiding judge. The Court of Appeals ruled in late 2017 that the guilty pleas should be withdrawn. Delmas has remained in custody since his original arrest.

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