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Man weeps in Winnipeg court, apologizes for sex attacks

A man who took part in two random and violent sex attacks — one of which left a victim clinging to life on the bank of a river — wept in court Wednesday as he apologized.

"I feel really bad, really frickin' bad for what I did," the man told his sentencing hearing.

He cannot be identified because he was 17 at the time of the assaults.

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"I know what (the victims) went through. I went through it for five years by my own uncle."

The man, who had to stop to catch his breath at one point, said he has also been affected by what he did because he has been dealing with threats and intimidation while in custody.

"It's hard to go through this."

He pleaded guilty last year to two counts of aggravated sexual assault and is being sentenced as an adult. The defence is seeking a sentence of seven years, minus 3 1/2 years for the time he has spent in custody. The Crown has asked for a 20-year sentence minus the same time credit.

Justin Hudson, who was 20 at the time, has pleaded guilty to the same charges and is awaiting sentencing.

"The level of violence was gratuitous and excessive," Crown attorney Jennifer Comack told court Wednesday.

"The facts themselves are utterly horrific."

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Court heard the man and Hudson went out on the night of Nov. 8, 2014, planning to steal cars.

They first came upon a 16-year-old girl, and beat and robbed her. The man held her down while Hudson sexually assaulted her. She ended up in the Assiniboine River, crawled out 100 metres downstream and was attacked again with a hammer.

A passerby found her hours later. She was technically dead for 45 minutes before being revived in hospital, and would go on to become an advocate for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

A few hours later, the man and Hudson came across a 23-year-old woman. They beat her severely and repeatedly sexually assaulted her. She spent three days in hospital with a concussion and facial injuries.

Neither victim can be identified under a court order. In their victim impact statements, they detailed the long list of injuries they suffered and the emotional impacts of the crimes.

Defence lawyer Steven Keesic told court Wednesday the man experienced sexual abuse and neglect as a child, suffers from a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and has a low IQ.

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Keesic said a 20-year sentence would be "far too crushing" for a man who only recently reached adulthood.

"The youthfulness must still be taken into account," Keesic said.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Gerald Chartier reserved his decision, but indicated he may hand down a sentence before mid-April.

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