PEI

Crown seeks 4 to 5 years in decades-old sex crime

The Crown is asking for a prison term of four to five years for a man who sexually assaulted a teenage girl in the 1990s.
Philip Alexander Whittaker was in court for a sentencing hearing Tuesday. His sentencing has been delayed several times due to health issues. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The Crown is asking for a prison term of four to five years for a man who sexually assaulted a teenage girl in the 1990s.

Philip Alexander Whittaker, 61, of Charlottetown, pleaded guilty in March to one charge of sexual interference and one charge of sexual assault.

At a sentencing hearing in Charlottetown provincial court on Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Lisa Goulden told Judge John Douglas that Whittaker's sex crimes are at the "serious end," and sentences in P.E.I. have been stiffened in recent years to reflect upward trends in sentencing in the rest of Canada.

Defence lawyer Thane MacEachern suggested one year in jail, the mandatory minimum. MacEachern told the court Whittaker admits he has an alcohol problem.

Whittaker stood in court on Tuesday, his long brown hair patchy in places, and apologized to the woman "for the grief and pain I have caused to her and her family."

Sentencing expected next month

The victim, who is not named because of a court-ordered publication ban, went to police last year after she saw Whittaker's photograph in a newspaper, working with families and children. According to the facts read in court, she didn't want to see any other children come to harm.  

Whittaker had been charged with 11 sex-related offences, but most were stayed after he pleaded guilty to the two charges.

The case was adjourned several times after Whittaker entered his guilty pleas in March. The court heard Whittaker was being treated for cancer in the summer, and that treatment is slated to continue in February.

The judge told court he would deliver a decision on Whittaker's sentence next month, and would also be researching the logistical implications of providing cancer treatment to offenders in provincial jails and federal penitentiary.