Dangerous offender hearing begins in Edmonton for repeat violent sexual offender

A Saskatchewan Crown prosecutor tried nine years ago to get Ashton Natomagan declared a dangerous offender. Now an Edmonton Crown prosecutor will try again.

Warning: This story contains graphic content

Ashton Natomagan, 36, faces a possible dangerous offender designation after he was sentenced for his third violent sexual offence. (Edmonton Police Service )

A Saskatchewan Crown prosecutor tried nine years ago to have Ashton Natomagan declared a dangerous offender.

Now an Edmonton Crown prosecutor will try again.

Testimony is expected to begin Tuesday at Natomagan's dangerous offender hearing in Edmonton. The hearing before Court of Queen's Bench Justice Terry Clackson is scheduled to last at least a week.

An Edmonton jury found Natomagan guilty late last year of sexual assault with a weapon, kidnapping, overcoming resistance and robbery. At the time, the court ordered a dangerous offender assessment, which led to this week's hearing.

History of sexual violence

Natomagan, 36, has a long history of sexual violence.

In 2003, angry because his girlfriend refused to have sex with him, Natomagan went into a house hoping to find an empty bed, according to a Saskatchewan criminal profile report.

The bed wasn't empty. When the 11-year old girl in the bed woke up and panicked, Natomagan "put his hand on her mouth and then choked her out," the report said.

"Natomagan claims that he initially thought he killed her," the report said. "But when he noticed that she was breathing, he then thought about the possibility of having sex with her. [Natomagan] claims that only after she was unconscious did he think about having sex with her, as he did not think he would get caught."

Natomagan ​was ultimately given a four-year sentence for sexual assault.

Two years later, the Parole Board of Canada said Natomagan was unable to control his "violent sexual and impulsive behaviour" and posed a danger to others.

Not long after he served his sentence, Natomagan ​tried to break into the home of a terrified elderly woman in Saskatoon.

For that crime he was sentenced to 15 months in jail. He was released in January 2008.

Four months later, he attacked a 16-year old girl in a park in Prince Albert, Sask.

Natomagan walked up to the teenager and wrapped an arm around her throat, according to Saskatchewan court documents. He punched her in the face, pushed her up against a fence and warned her not to make any noise. He pulled down her pants, pushed her to the ground and touched her before running away.

"I provoked him to keep hitting me, rather than raping me, until the cops came around the corner," the girl told police at the time.

In 2010, a Saskatchewan provincial court judge designated Ashton Natomagan a long-term offender.

Natomagan pleaded guilty to sexual assault causing bodily harm. The Saskatchewan Crown then applied for a dangerous offender designation.

In a decision released in 2010, Saskatchewan provincial court Judge Hugh Harradence found there was a "substantial risk" that Natomagan would reoffend. But the judge decided there was still a chance that with intense counselling and close supervision Natomagan would one day no longer pose a risk to public safety.

The judge designated the repeat sex offender as a long-term offender and sentenced him to eight years in prison, to be followed by an eight-year supervision order.

The Saskatchewan Crown appealed the decision, arguing that Natomagan should be declared a dangerous offender. The appeal was dismissed in 2012 by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

"Mr. Natomagan's offending is serious, but not as serious as the many other offenders declared to be dangerous in this jurisdiction and elsewhere," the appeal court wrote at the time.

Sexual attack on Edmonton woman

Granted credit for time already served, Natomagan was released from Grande Cache Institution in March 2015 and ordered to report to an Edmonton halfway house.

Days later, a warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to return to the halfway house. Edmonton police issued a news release and public warning that described Natomagan as dangerous.

On April 11, 2015, Natomagan grabbed a 37-year-old Edmonton woman who was out jogging on a Saturday afternoon in her north-central neighbourhood.

His arm around her neck, he choked her until she lost consciousness. When the woman came to, Natomagan held a box cutter-style knife close to her chin and forced her into an alley between two garages. He demanded money, then wrapped her hands and ankles in green painter's tape and put tape over her mouth so she couldn't scream.

After he pulled her pants and underwear down to her ankles, he forced the woman to get on all fours.

A 37-year-old Edmonton woman was sexually assaulted in April 2015 in this back alley in central Edmonton. (Edmonton Police Service )

"He was very angry, very aggressive," the victim told the jury last fall. "He was kneeling behind me and said, 'Maybe I have to cut you, so you understand I'm in control.' "

The woman escaped when her attacker left her in the alley to look for her lost cellphone.

Natomagan has spent little of his adult life outside prison. Once again he faces the possibility of an indefinite sentence.

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston