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Dangerous offender hearing continues

Thursday June 16, 2005

The man convicted of beating Gull Bay's Lisa Bouchard and leaving her bloodied in her Thunder Bay apartment Oct. 12, 2002 will have to wait to find out if he's been named a dangerous offender.

June 16, 2005: Volume 32 #12

Christopher Ward was in a Thunder Bay court from Monday to Thursday last week, listening as his lawyer Daniel Brodsky and assistant Crown attorney Trevor Jukes heard evidence from victims, a doctor and correctional officials familiar with him to determine if he should be locked in prison indefinitely.

During court Monday, evidence of Ward's past was presented. More than seven years before the attack on Bouchard, Ward injured another former girlfriend. The then 17-year-old was stabbed in the eye and temple with haircutting scissors. Ward spent more than five years in prison for the attack.

Bouchard also presented her victim impact statement Monday so Superior Court Justice Patrick Smith could hear her perspective. In the statement, Bouchard wrote she had been left "scarred for life" by the attack.

In Tuesday's testimony, Stony Mountain Prison official Jeff McNeil took the stand and suggested Ward would likely need treatment for anger management, substance abuse, and relationship counselling to help his interaction with women after hearing the reasons why Ward was convicted of the assault on Bouchard. On Wednesday and Thursday, Dr. Scott Woodside, who performed a risk-assessment on Ward, spoke. He told the court he believes Ward will remain a higher risk for violent re-offence for 10-15 years and should be supervised for as long as possible.

During the hearing, Brodsky argued constitutional validity of the dangerous offender law, saying it was too broad.

"It must be crystal clear. If it's not, a (person declared a) dangerous offender may spend the rest of his life in jail," Brodsky said.

"Is (the assault on Bouchard) an offence of a brutal nature? I think not. Some people think yes.

"We all have to know what ëbrutality' is. Are we talking about physical harm or psychological harm?"

Ward has yet to be sentenced on the conviction for beating Bouchard. He could be delegated a long-term offender and receive a regular sentence, which would be followed by 10 years of supervision; a dangerous offence sentenced to an indefinite amount of time in prison with the possibility of the rest of his life to be spent there; or receive a regular sentence for the crime and not be labeled dangerous. The matter returned to court June 15 with legal arguments taking place. It will likely be adjourned once more before Smith makes a decision.

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