Fort Liard youth to be sentenced for manslaughter, sexual assault

The victim's body was found near a local river after she had been abandoned, unconscious, in the cold.

Youth pleaded guilty to sexual assault, was later convicted of manslaughter in girl's death

The victim's body was found near a local river in Fort Liard, N.W.T., after she had been abandoned, unconscious, in the cold. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

A youth from Fort Liard, N.W.T., who sexually assaulted a girl after encouraging her to drink a lethal amount of vodka, will be sentenced in December. 

The youth had pleaded guilty to sexual assault causing bodily harm and not guilty to the charge of manslaughter. He was convicted of manslaughter by Judge Robert Gorin in July.

Crown and defence lawyers made submissions on sentencing for both charges on Friday.

Gorin has reserved his decision on sentencing in the case until December 19.

According to the agreed statement of facts, the youth and a friend drank with the girl in October 2015 until she passed out. He then sexually assaulted her.

Both the youth and his friend left the girl unconscious near a Fort Liard river, as the weather dipped to 0 C. 

The girl's body was discovered the next day near the river. In previous court proceedings in the case, an expert witness testified the girl died of alcohol poisoning.

The identity of the convicted youth, victim and witnesses are protected by a publication ban.

'I do not believe anything he says,' judge says

At trial, the youth testified he "didn't remember" encouraging the girl to drink or sexually assaulting her.

In Gorin's written decision in the manslaughter case, dated July 26, he said he found the boy's testimony "to be problematic," noting that he believed the youth lied when testifying about his knowledge of harm that could befall someone who drinks too much.

"I find that he was doing so in an effort to exculpate himself from the crime he committed," the judge said.

"On material points, I do not believe anything he says."

Gorin said the youth provided the alcohol to the girl and his friend, and he "knew full well" that if someone drank too much they could be rendered unconscious.

Even though obtaining help would have been very easy, he did not do so.- Judge Robert Gorin

"I find that he knew that she might become intoxicated to the point that she could choke on her vomit. He put her on her side to prevent her from doing so," Gorin said.

"As I have stated, this shows that he was aware of the risks of excessive alcohol consumption."

Instead of getting her help, Gorin pointed out that the youth sexually assaulted the victim and then left her alone. The judge said the girl was alive when the two boys left her.

"[He] knew she needed help. Even though obtaining help would have been very easy, he did not do so," the decision reads.

"I find that the reason he acted in this manner is very apparent. He did not want to be caught for the crime he had just committed."

The judge said that had the victim gotten help when she needed it, "her chances of survivability would have been substantially increased."