North

Man says he's remorseful for assaulting woman who tried to help him

A man from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., was sentenced on Wednesday to three years for sexually assaulting a woman who put him up when he had nowhere to stay.

Sexual assault the latest in offender's long string of alcohol-fuelled violent crime

A Fort Good Hope man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman in October 2017 said he has no memory of the attack because he had been drinking. (Walter Strong/CBC)

A man from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., has been sentenced to three years in jail for sexually assaulting a woman who tried to help him out when he had no place to stay.

Though he says he has no memory of it because he was drinking, Darnell Kakfwi pleaded guilty to raping the woman when she allowed him to stay at her home. He admitted to grabbing her as she was leaving him to go upstairs to go to bed and threatening to kill her if she screamed.

At the time of the October 2017 attack, the 33-year-old was on early release from his then-latest sentence in an almost unbroken string of crime during his adult life.

Addressing N.W.T. Supreme Court Chief Justice Louise Charbonneau before being sentenced on Wednesday, Kakfwi said he committed all of the crimes he's been convicted of while under the influence of alcohol. 

"If I do drink, I have no power over my actions after that," he said, adding, "I am very remorseful for what happened. I accept full responsibility."

'Messed me up a lot'

In a statement that was read out in court by the prosecutor, the victim said the attack has "messed me up a lot." She said she no longer trusts people, she keeps to herself now and has trouble focusing on her studies. She said she's been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.

Prosecutor Morgan Fane said the victim's mother has talked about the huge guilt she carries, knowing she was sleeping in the same house as her daughter was being attacked by Kakfwi.

Kakfwi grew up in a home that was plagued by alcohol and domestic violence, according to his lawyer. One of his first memories was waking up to find his mother's blood splattered in the home after she was beaten by his stepfather.

If I do drink, I have no power over my actions after that.- Darnell Kakfwi, offender

"He would frequently wake up to an empty home, with furniture flung about and damaged," defence lawyer Leslie Moore told the court. "It's not surprising that at age 13 he began experimenting with alcohol and drugs."

In 2009, Kakfwi moved from Fort Good Hope to Yellowknife. "He thought he could turn his life around, but unfortunately at that time his addictions had control of his life," said Moore.

Offender didn't change behaviour, says judge

Justice Charbonneau said Kakfwi has had plenty of opportunities to make the connection between his alcohol consumption and his violence. Kakfwi has been sentenced for numerous assaults, including assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon. His first adult sentence, when he was 19, was for manslaughter.

"Even after being sentenced for such a serious crime he didn't change his behaviour," Charbonneau said. "Mr. Kakfwi has known for a long time that when he drinks, bad things can happen."

Kakfwi entered his guilty plea earlier this week, just as his trial was about to begin. Charbonneau said the evidence against him included the victim's DNA, which was found on the front of his boxer shorts.

Kakfwi has been in jail since his arrest shortly after the attack. With credit for that time, he has only six months left on his sentence. Once released he will be on probation for two years. One of the conditions is that he have no contact with either the victim or her mother.