Alley ‘relief’ led to attack, traumatic brain injury

Victoria man found guilty of assaulting student who was urinating behind dumpster

Stepping into a back-alley puddle of urine so enraged Latto Simian Sesay that he decided to punish an unsuspecting Victoria man who had just relieved himself behind a dumpster.

It was just after bar closing on the early morning of March 31, 2018, when Sesay walked into the alley to look for his friends. Instead, he spotted Brian Rowley, a 28-year-old University of Victoria student, walking out of an alcove behind the Strathcona Hotel after he had urinated behind a dumpster.

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The 34-year-old Sesay stopped Rowley, then punched him in the face. Rowley, unaware the blow was coming, fell backward and hit his head, receiving a traumatic brain injury.

This information was recounted this week by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Walker, who convicted Sesay of the aggravated assault of Rowley.

“I find from all the evidence, Mr. Sesay intended to confront and challenge Mr. Rowley while he was angry and frustrated and to mete out some form of punishment for the act of another who had urinated close to the entrance of the alley,” Walker said.

A sentencing date has not been set for Sesay, who has already pleaded guilty to resisting a police officer that night.

The judge has ordered a pre-sentence report with a psychological component and an assessment of Sesay’s risk to the community.

Rowley will deliver a victim- impact statement to the court at sentencing. Before the random attack, he worked full time researching technologies to improve the lives of children and adults with autism. He was working on a master’s degree in community development.

He has no memory of what happened that night. The last thing Rowley says he remembers is being at The Beagle Pub on Cook Street that evening.

“He’s doing better,” said prosecutor Jess Patterson. “He’s started back at school, but he has not worked since the assault.”

The judge found Sesay’s explanation that he was acting in self-defence lacked credibility.

Through video surveillance cameras in the alley and around the hotel and evidence given by two Strathcona employees who were having a smoke break in the alley at the time, the Crown has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt, Walker said.

The employees testified that the Strathcona Hotel installed an open-air public urinal in the alley as a convenience to those needing to relieve themselves after the bars close. But it’s common for men to urinate behind the dumpster where their bodies are shielded from view.

Sesay, who testified that he had 10 to 12 drinks, said he walked into the alley because he thought his friends might be drinking or doing drugs there. He admitted he was upset and frustrated when he stepped into the urine puddle.

Sesay appeared to stagger as he walked, Walker said. It appeared he was going to use the urinal, but then spotted Rowley.

“There was nothing provocative or threatening about the movement of Mr. Rowley’s arms and hands,” Walker said. “They were by his side when he was struck by Mr. Sesay.”

After punching Rowley, Sesay turned and walked away down the alley. Just before turning onto Courtney Street, Sesay turned and wagged two of his fingers in the direction where Rowley was lying unconscious on the ground.

“It was his final jeer,” Walker said.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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