Crown says anti-Indigenous bias may have influenced man who beat and sexually assaulted homeless ex-partner

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Warning: this story contains details some readers may find distrusting. 

A man convicted of beating and sexually assaulting a former intimate partner in what prosecutors allege was a crime influenced in part by racial prejudice gave a lengthy statement in court in which he denied wrongdoing and painted himself as the victim.

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Terry Hansen was in Edmonton Court of King’s Bench Monday for a sentencing hearing on four charges including assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault causing bodily harm and assaulting a peace officer.

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Hansen was arrested after beating his ex-partner in Edmonton on Aug. 17, 2019. The woman was homeless at the time, having broken up with Hansen weeks prior after he choked her. Court heard Hansen reached out to try to mend things but ended up assaulting the woman again, punching, stomping and biting her in an intimate area.

After his arrest, Hansen asked police whether the woman was “f—ed up” and replied “good. That’s Indian loving.” He later spit in a police officer’s face.

Crown prosecutor Domnia Hussain said Hansen’s comment is evidence of racial prejudice that should lead to a stiffer sentence. She is asking Justice Grant Dunlop to sentence Hansen to 13 years in prison, noting Hansen victimized a woman who was doubly vulnerable due to her homelessness and Indigenous background.

Defence lawyer Lance McClean is asking for six years. He said his client was so intoxicated and belligerent the court should not accept his utterance as evidence of racial bias.

Hansen and the victim, whose name is covered by a publication ban, were living together in a trailer in Lac La Biche with her daughter from another relationship. In late June 2019, the couple got into an argument, which ended when Hansen choked the victim. The woman left the home, arranged for her daughter to live with someone else, and began living on the streets of Edmonton.

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The assault that led to Hansen’s arrest happened in Downtown Edmonton. Court heard the two briefly reunited and were living together on the streets. The woman tried to break the relationship off again. The two traded shoves, then punches. Hansen knocked the woman to the ground and stomped her head, face and chest. He then lay beside her and said, “If I can’t have you, no one can,” and bit her vaginal area over her clothes.

Hussain said the beating caused the woman’s face to swell to three times its normal size and left her with vision and hearing problems. She experienced discomfort using the washroom for months.

“It was probably one of the most aggressive beatings I’ve seen,” Hussain said. 

The victim was briefly in court Monday to hear the Crown read her victim impact statement. “I cry every time I talk about it,” the victim wrote. She said the attack “broke my brain.”

Hussain said Hansen’s own words during and after the attack speak to his motivation. She compared his comment prior to biting the victim to acid attacks committed by jealous exes in some countries. “He’s trying to ruin her for any future relationship.” 

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His comment about Indigenous people was evidence “he has placed (the victim) in a class of people he considers below him,” Hussain added. 

McClean argued for a shorter sentence, saying similar cases have attracted sentences well below 13 years. He said his client — who is currently in custody — has accrued 162 days of pretrial custody.

Toward the end of Monday’s proceedings, Hansen rose in the prisoner’s box and — taking a piece of note paper from his orange remand coveralls — gave a lengthy statement in which he contradicted the court’s findings, insulted the victim and her family and complained about the effects of the proceedings on his mental health. He insisted throughout that he was not the aggressor, and said “I thought you all were smarter than to let her pull the wool over your eyes.” 

Hussain rose multiple times during the statement, at one point noting for the record the statement contradicted the court’s findings and showed “no indication of remorse.”

“I heard it,” Dunlop replied.

Hansen’s case is next in court Friday to set a date for Dunlop’s decision.

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