Woman's testimony against accused kidnapper 'credible,' Crown prosecutor says

A Court of Queen's Bench Justice will hand down his verdict on Monday in a kidnapping, sexual assault and forcible confinement case. Ryan Dechambre, 30, could face a lengthy prison sentence if convicted.

A verdict is expected Monday in the trial of Ryan Dechambre

Ryan Dechambre, 30, is accused of sexual assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement and uttering threats. (Edmonton Police Service )

An Edmonton woman who testified this week against the man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting her was "an extraordinary witness" with remarkable recall, a Crown prosecutor said Friday during closing arguments.

The evidence in the case was "overwhelming" and supported the version of events recounted in court by the witness, who can only be identified by the initials C.M. due to a court-ordered publication ban.

"Her testimony was credible, it was reliable," Crown prosecutor Carole Godfrey said." She was careful with her answers when she was not sure. She did not inflate or inflame. She just explained what happened. Her recall was remarkable."

Defence lawyer Dale Knisely called no evidence at the trial. But in his closing argument Friday he questioned the reliability of C.M.'s testimony.

The 52-year old woman told court that in July 2016 she was working in the sex trade along 118th Avenue and agreed to have sex with Ryan Dechambre for $60.

She said Dechambre, 30, kidnapped her and took her to his north-Edmonton home. She said she was forced to have sex with him at least 10 times against her will and was locked naked in a closet off and on for several days.

Two charges withdrawn on Friday

C.M. also claimed that Dechambre slapped her, held a knife to her throat and whipped her with an extension cord and coat hanger during an ordeal that Godfrey described as "horrific."

Dechambre is charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, extortion, possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace, assault with a weapon, uttering threats and unlawful confinement. On Friday, Godfrey withdrew a robbery charge and one weapons charge.

In his closing argument, Knisely admitted C.M. was in Dechambre's car and house that summer but suggested she stayed with him voluntarily.

"It's our position that at the time this takes place, she really doesn't have a place to live," Knisely told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Paul Belzil. "She's got no place to go. It is reasonable to assume the accused would have offered her a place to stay."

Knisely suggested C.M. came up with her story after the fact, to explain to her friend why she had disappeared for a week.

One of the closets where C.M. said she was kept locked up by her kidnapper. (Edmonton Police Service)

The defence lawyer said "it's not necessarily true" that C.M. was locked in a closet.

A photo taken by police that was entered as an exhibit shows a blanket, pillow and fan in one of the home's closets.

"The picture of the closet speaks a thousand words," Godfrey said.

During cross-examination on Thursday, Knisely repeatedly asked C.M. why she never tried to escape. She testified she was too scared to try.

On Friday, during closing arguments, the defence lawyer wondered aloud why C.M. never tried to get away while Dechambre was asleep on the bed beside her.

"There is ample reason why this woman would have feared for her life," Godfrey told the judge. "He created an atmosphere of sheer intimidation, terror and fear. That's why she was afraid to run."

Belzil is scheduled to hand down his decision Monday afternoon. Dechambre remains in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre.

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