A man has been charged with sexually and physically assaulting a woman in what police are calling a random incident on Fenwick Street in Halifax.

Loay Abdelrahnan, 19, appeared in court Thursday to face charges of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, break and enter, forcible confinement and choking.

"He has several very serious charges, one of the most serious being the aggravated sexual assault. That brings up to a life sentence for anybody convicted of that charge," said Crown prosecutor Rick Woodburn.

The assault happened near Fenwick Tower, the city's tallest apartment building.

Abdelrahnan is accused of using a coffee pot to attack his victim and then trying to choke her unconscious just before 11 a.m. Wednesday.

A witness heard the assault, and called 911.  Police arrived within minutes.


Loay Abdelrahnan, 19, was wheeled into court Thursday. (CBC)


"He ran away from the scene but from the description we got from the witness at the scene we were able to locate him minutes after the incident," said Const. Pierre Bourdages.

The victim — who did not know her attacker, according to Halifax Regional Police — was treated at the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Irene Smith, executive director of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, said they hear about sexual violence on a daily basis.

"My reaction was very emotional and my next thought went to the woman who has gone through this horrendous experience and hoping that she's going to get the support that she needs," said Smith.

Woodburn agrees.

"She's a brave young lady who managed to survive.  We should be proud of that. Hopefully she's doing OK now," he said.

Abdelrahnan said he doesn't want a lawyer.  The Crown is opposing his release from jail.

Abdelrahnan has been remanded to the East Coast Forensic Hospital for a psychiatric assessment.

He's due back in court next Tuesday.