James Clifford Paul sentencing adjourned until April

A young man who sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl and left her naked in the snow will now be sentenced in April.

Young man has pleaded guilty to assaulting 6-year-old girl on the Paul First Nation in December 2014

James Clifford Paul was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for a brutal attack on a seven-year-old girl just days before Christmas in 2014. (Facebook)

A young man who sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl and left her naked in the snow will not be sentenced until April.

James Clifford Paul pleaded guilty in November to sexual assault and aggravated assault for a horrendous attack on the little girl. 

At a sentencing hearing Monday in a Stony Plain courtroom, the Crown and the defence agreed to a joint submission that called for Paul to serve 10 years in prison.

Paul was initially charged with kidnapping and attempted murder, but Crown prosecuter Jason Neustaeter dropped those charges.

"The intent required to prove attempted murder is very high and we felt that was something we may have had a difficulty proving," he said.

"Given that he was acknowledging his responsibility and willing to plead guilty to the aggravated assault we thought that was appropriate."

After hearing from lawyers for both sides, Judge Charles Gardner called a brief adjournment so he could read the victim impact statements.

The judge then told court he will reserve his sentencing decision until April 18.

Paul, 22, appeared in court Monday wearing jeans and a red hoodie. He did not make eye contact with anyone in the courtroom, including members of his own family, who were forced to move out of the community after the attack.

Defence lawyer Arnold Piragoff called Paul's attack on the little girl and the effect on both families a "Shakespearean tragedy."

Quoting his client, Piragoff told court: "I pray for the victim, the little girl, every day. I do not think I can forgive myself for what I did to that little girl."

The child was attacked on Dec. 20, 2014, and left in the snow near a convenience store on the Paul First Nation reserve. Family members found the girl naked and suffering from hypothermia.

She was flown to hospital by STARS air ambulance in critical but stable condition.

Five days later, on Christmas Day, the child awoke from a coma. Friends and family referred to her as a "Christmas angel."

The child was released from hospital in August.

Crown prosecutor Jason Neustaeter told court on Monday the child, now seven, suffered a traumatic brain injury and requires round-the-clock care.

"I would use the word miraculous to describe the fact that she survived at all," Neustaeter said.

The child will likely need care for the rest of her life, he said.

The Paul First Nation is about 70 km west of Edmonton.