Not enough to conclude anti-Indigenous hate played role in Edmonton woman's assault, judge finds

On Thursday, Court of King’s Bench Justice Grant Dunlop sentenced Hansen, 55, to eight years in prison for a series of assaults on his former intimate partner

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

Terry Hansen’s attack on his girlfriend was a vicious, degrading assault — but there is too little evidence to conclude it was motivated by anti-Indigenous hatred, a judge has found.

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On Thursday, Court of King’s Bench Justice Grant Dunlop sentenced Hansen, 55, to eight years in prison for a series of assaults on his former intimate partner.

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Crown prosecutor Domina Hussain earlier argued for a stiffer sentence of 13 years, urging Dunlop to conclude Hansen was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate toward the victim because she is Indigenous. She pointed to a comment Hansen made while under arrest in hospital, responding to two police officers discussing the woman’s injuries with the words “that’s Indian loving.”

Dunlop, however, found that comment alone was “insufficient” to prove Hansen was motivated by hate.

Hansen was found guilty in August of two counts of assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault causing bodily harm and assaulting a police officer.

The first assault occurred in the summer of 2019 when Hansen choked the woman — whose name is covered by a publication ban — while she slept in the trailer they shared in Lac La Biche. The assault led the woman to flee the home with her child, who witnessed the choking.

Hansen and the victim were living on the streets of Edmonton when the second assault occurred. Court heard that on Aug. 17, 2019, the two got into a fight after drinking heavily at a gazebo near 121 Street and 100 Avenue. Hansen punched the woman in the face a half-dozen times, then stomped on her chest when she fell to the ground. Once the woman lost consciousness, he bit her vagina over her clothes and said, “If I can’t have you, no one can.”

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The woman was hospitalized after the attack and continues to deal with physical and psychological injuries. In a victim impact statement, she said she can no longer see out of one of her eyes, while the hearing in one of her ears is permanently damaged.

“I get mad all the time. I don’t trust men. I don’t trust anybody,” she said. “My life is wrong because of him. I can’t think anymore because he wrecked my brain.”

Hansen was himself taken to hospital, where he made the remark about the woman’s race, in addition to a variety of other insults. He also spit in the face of a police officer, netting him the assault charge.

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Hansen remained combative during his sentencing hearing, launching into what Dunlop called a “long, rambling speech” attacking the victim and her family and suggesting the court had been duped.

Dunlop ultimately settled upon a sentence between the 13 years sought by the Crown and the six years sought by defence lawyer Lance McClean. He said the “extreme” violence of the assaults requires a sentence to denounce and deter such behaviour. The court concluded that while there were few mitigating factors, the fact Hansen was homeless and addicted to drugs lessened his degree of moral responsibility.

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Court heard that, but for a violent period in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Hansen lived a productive life, working as a machinist in the oil and gas sector and providing for his family. That went into a “tailspin” when his wife died from cancer and Hansen started abusing cocaine and alcohol, McClean said. The defence lawyer added Hansen and the victim met while they were both homeless, living on the streets, in shelters and in vehicles.

Hansen accrued 196 days in pre-trial custody. He has also been banned from possessing weapons for 20 years and will have to register under the Sex Offender Information Registration Act for the same period.

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