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Saanich man declared a dangerous offender

Mar 02 2012

A man with a long and violent history of sexual assaults against women has been declared a dangerous offender.

On Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Keith Bracken sentenced Robert Charles Lawrence, 35, to an indeterminate time in a federal penitentiary "to adequately protect the public."

On April 24, 2009, Lawrence was convicted of sexual assault and overcoming resistance by choking his victim. At sentencing, the Crown applied to have Lawrence assessed as a dangerous offender.

Dangerous offenders have typically been found guilty of a serious personal-injury offence and have demonstrated a pattern of repetitive or aggressive behaviour that makes them a threat to public safety.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Murray argued that Lawrence was unable to control his sexual impulses and would likely cause pain or injury to others if released.

The defence argued there was a reasonable possibility of controlling Lawrence's risk by imposing a fixed sentence followed by supervision in the community. Lawyer Ray Dieno asked Bracken to sentence Lawrence for the sexual assault and choking offence and impose a longterm supervision order, rather than indefinite incarceration.

A court-appointed psychiatrist concluded that Lawrence's long-standing anti-social personality traits would put others at risk of harm from him and that there was substantial risk he would reoffend.

Bracken noted that Lawrence had been charged with several assaults and sexual assaults since 1997, and that the offences were "remarkably similar."

"Mr. Lawrence quickly forms a relationship or acquaintances with women, often women who are vulnerable. Soon after, Mr. Lawrence becomes controlling and manipulative, physically and emotionally abusive, and sexually demanding, often using extreme violence in order to coerce these women to engage in sexual activity," Bracken said.

This pattern of forced sexual behaviour often includes choking, which puts his victims at risk of physical injuries, asphyxia or death, said Bracken. Lawrence has threatened to kill his partner more than once. On one occasion, he displayed a knife to get compliance.

Evidence before the court showed that Lawrence is indifferent to his victims during the assault. Bracken said he was also satisfied that Lawrence had failed to control his sexual impulses and had demonstrated a pattern of persistent aggressive behaviour.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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