Man who beat homeless hero gets jail

The man who severely beat Faron Hall, known in Winnipeg as a homeless hero, has been ordered to spend 2½ years in jail.

The man who severely beat Faron Hall, known in Winnipeg as a homeless hero, has been ordered to spend 2½ years in jail.

Darrell Longclaws, 31, learned his fate after pleading guilty at a recent court hearing to aggravated assault. He has been in custody since Feb. 7, a day after the attack in Hall's Manitoba Housing apartment on Marion Street.

In 2009, Hall risked his life to save people from drowning in the Red River on two separate occasions.

Longclaws beat Hall with a table leg, and he spent about a week in hospital recovering from severe facial wounds.

Court heard Hall, Longclaws and his girlfriend had been drinking heavily in the apartment. After passing out, Longclaws awoke and mistakenly thought Hall had committed a sexual act with the woman.

'Blood all over the place'

A subsequent argument between the men escalated, and Longclaws attacked Hall, Crown attorney Raegan Rankin told Judge Lynn Stannard.

Longclaws and the woman then left the suite, but the woman persuaded a security guard to let her back inside, Rankin said. When the guard opened the door of the apartment, he saw Hall on the floor with "blood all over the place," Rankin said.

The guard immediately called 911.

Hall was taken to the Health Sciences Centre in critical condition but was quickly upgraded to stable. He suffered extensive bruising and swelling on his face, along with a brain bleed that luckily didn't require surgery, Rankin said.

Longclaws was arrested about a day and a half later after being spotted at The Forks in downtown Winnipeg. He's been in custody ever since.

Stannard heard that Hall and Longclaws were "very close" after spending a lot of time together on the streets of Winnipeg.

Given a chance to address the court, Longclaws referred to Hall as "his cousin" and blamed his violent outburst on a drinking problem.

"I'm just really sick of my drinking," he said, pledging he would seek help.

Stannard heard Longclaws has a record of assault convictions, along with a conviction of criminal negligence causing death from 2001 for which he served two years in prison.

Stannard said she hoped Longclaws sought help for his drinking problem, but refused to grant his request for a sentence of time served.

"Your record is basically one of violence … your record disentitles you to leniency," Stannard said, adding his level of drunkenness when he attacked Hall didn't let him off the hook.

"I have to separate you [from society]."

The judge added 11 months to Longclaws's sentence, bringing the total to 30 months in jail after granting him double-credit for time already served. He was charged just a few weeks before new federal legislation forbidding two-for-one credits came into force.

Longclaws's girlfriend, Geraldine Colombe, was also charged in connection with the assault, but she pleaded guilty to probation breaches after making a deal with the Crown and was given a seven-month jail sentence. Colombe was also ordered to stay away from Hall for two years.

Heroism captured national attention

Hall made national headlines in May 2009 after he saved Joseph Mousseau, 19, from drowning in the icy Red River. Despite the fast-moving spring current, Hall swam out to the teen and pulled him to safety.

He was later presented with the Winnipeg mayor's Medal of Valour.

Then in September, he rescued his friend Tara Beardy from the same river as they sat near the Norwood Bridge.

At the time of the first rescue, Hall had been homeless for years, often staying on the banks of the river and drinking heavily. Saving the boy's life was a personal turning point, he told CBC News in earlier interviews.

Shortly after the May rescue, Hall moved into the government-owned apartment block where the beating took place.