Notifications

Ticking the boxes: Why Sofyan Boalag was declared a dangerous offender

What it took for the judge to decide serial rapist Sofyan Boalag is a dangerous offender - with no set release date from jail.

Warning: The details in this story may be disturbing to some

Sofyan Boalag doesn't know how long he will be in prison. (Glenn Payette/CBC News)

The lives of two women and one girl changed dramatically five years ago when they were raped by Sofyan Boalag in St. John's.

Boalag held a knife to the throat of M.H. in the downtown area on Dec. 9, 2012. She tried to fight him off, but she fell to the ground. 

He tore off her underwear. She screamed for help. Boalag threatened to kill her if she didn't stop. He raped her and squeezed her neck until she passed out.

Eight days earlier, at 2 a.m., Boalag had put a knife to the neck of F.S.

In behind St. Bon's School, he raped her as she pleaded with him to stop.

He robbed her as well.

And in late September 2012, 15-year-old I. H. felt a sharp object, maybe a stick, poke into her back. Boalag dragged her between some houses off Lemarchant Road, and repeatedly told her he was going to kill her.

He bent her over and raped her. 

Dangerous offender status

On Thursday, Boalag, 38, was declared a dangerous offender.

That means he has an open-ended prison sentence, and won't get out until the Parole Board of Canada decides he can be released.

Crown Prosecutor Trisha McCarthy had to prove why Boalag should be deemed a dangerous offender. (Glenn Payette/CBC News)

During Boalag's sentencing hearing, Crown Prosecutor Trisha McCarthy made the case for why Boalag should be declared a dangerous offender.

In order to grant it, Chief Judge Pamela Goulding had to meticulously assess if he fit the criteria.

The crown had to prove he had a pattern of aggressive, repetitive behaviour with significant similarities in his attacks; was indifferent to the impact of his actions; and is likely to carry out such attacks again.  

'Deliberate and calculated manner'

In her 46-page decision, Goulding noted the consistencies in Boalag's actions, writing: "The victims were female and were violently sexually assaulted in generally similar circumstances."

Boalag's offences happened in the early morning hours, a weapon was used, there were threats of violence, and the victims did not know the rapist.

"These attacks were conducted in a deliberate and calculated manner," wrote Goulding. 

"I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence established a pattern of repetitive behaviour on the part of Mr. Boalag ... showing a failure to restrain his behaviour."

Judge Pamela Goulding decided the best way to protect the public from Boalag was to declare him a dangerous offender. (Glenn Payette/CBC News)

He went from using a stick to using a knife, robbery, and choking his last victim, which "demonstrates a pattern of escalating violent behaviour," the judge wrote.   

As part of her decision Goulding quoted what Forensic Psychiatrist Jasbir Gill wrote in her report about Boalag, that he is "a high risk to sexual recidivism (or re-offend)." 

'No remorse'

On top of what he was convicted of doing to his victims, an informant at Her Majesty's Penitentiary said Boalag planned sexual violence towards female staff there.

Boalag told Gill that he did what he did because of his alcohol and cocaine abuse, and he wouldn't have believed he had committed the rapes if not for the DNA evidence. 

The psychiatrist noted that Boalag said he was, "not this kind of person," deserved a second chance, and hoped he would just get time served.

Forensic Pyschiatrist Dr. Jasbir Gill said Boalag was a high risk to reoffend without help. (Glenn Payette/CBC News)

She said Boalag's "denial of any underlying sexual deviancy or willingness or ability to explore his sexual attitudes," makes him a high risk to reoffend as well. 

Gill said that Boalag could not relate to how his victims felt.

"Mr. Boalag has appeared more concerned with the consequences to him in terms of his freedom and 'getting [his] life back,'" she said. 

In her decision, Goulding wrote: "[Boalag] has expressed no remorse. He has shown callous disregard for the emotional and physical trauma experienced by [his victims]."

Although Gill said there's a "reasonable possibility" he might be able to control himself with proper management, Goulding said that isn't good enough. 

'Gratuitous and unprovoked violence'

The crown also went over the impact the attacks had on the victims. 

I.H. tried to commit suicide twice. F.S. was convinced Boalag was going to kill her. M.H. had "flashbacks of torture."

Goulding concluded: "The offences against M. H. were brutal in nature. He violently sexually assaulted her and choked her until she lost consciousness."

"There was gratuitous and unprovoked violence against F.S. and I.H as well," she wrote. 

The sentence

In her decision, Goulding said, "There is no evidence before me that Mr. Boalag can be rehabilitated within a definite period of time."

"There is no credible evidence that he would willingly engage in treatment designed to address the reasons for these violent sexual attacks upon women."

If he is ever released from prison, Boalag will be deported back to Algeria. (Glenn Payette/CBC News)

Goulding said the crown had shown that Boalag met the criteria for being declared a dangerous offender, and that the public might not be protected if he got a lesser sentence.

Boalag is the 13th person in Newfoundland and Labrador to be declared a dangerous offender since the designation began in 1978.

Boalag's future

It's not yet known if Boalag will appeal his convictions or the dangerous offender ruling.

He was arrested in December of 2012, and has been in custody since. As a dangerous offender, he has an indeterminate sentence, and will be assessed by the Parole Board of Canada to eventually determine his release. 

The first required assessment is a little over two years from now. 

As an Algerian national, Boalag will be deported if he is ever released from prison.

About the Author

Glenn Payette

Videojournalist

A veteran journalist with more than 30 years' experience, Glenn Payette is a videojournalist with CBC News in St. John's.