Man gets 10 years for pair of attacks downtown in 2018

A Victoria man will serve a total of 10 years in prison after committing two almost identical assaults in downtown Victoria in March 2018.

Latto Simian Sesay, 35, has been sentenced Tuesday to 3 1Ú2 years in prison after pleading guilty to the aggravated assault of Jeremiah Anderson on March 18, 2018. Sesay is already serving a 61Ú2-year prison sentence for the aggravated assault two weeks later of University of Victoria student Brian Rowley, who sustained a traumatic brain injury.

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In her reasons for sentence, Victoria provincial court Judge Carmen Rogers noted that the two assaults were strikingly similar. Both were single, unprovoked punches to the face that knocked the victim to the ground. Both were outside bars, and in both cases, Sesay fled the scene while his victim was unconscious.

On the night of March 18, Anderson was outside a downtown nightclub with his girlfriend and two friends. They were talking in a circle when Sesay’s girlfriend interrupted their conversation. Anderson asked her to back off.

Sesay, who was nearby, said: “Don’t talk to my [expletive] girlfriend that way” and punched the unsuspecting Anderson in the face. Unable to defend himself, Anderson was knocked to the ground with his hands by his side, striking his head on the concrete and losing consciousness. Sesay and his girlfriend left the area.

At the time, Sesay was six-foot, two-inches tall and 200 pounds. Anderson was five-foot, six-inches tall and 135 pounds, said Rogers.

Anderson suffered a fractured skull, jaw and orbital bone. He spent three days in hospital, lost five weeks of work, had to eat with a straw for eight weeks and continues to be affected by his brain injury, said Rogers.

He is regularly fatigued and has numbness due to nerve damage in his face.

“He has lost his ability to enjoy music, which was previously both a source of employment and pleasure, because ‘small sounds feel like an earthquake’ in his head. Anderson suffers from anxiety and depression and feels he is unable to live his life to the fullest as a result of his injuries,” said Rogers.

The attack on Rowley took place on March 31. Sesay became enraged after stepping into a back-alley puddle of urine and decided to punish Rowley, who was walking out of an alcove behind the Strathcona Hotel after he had urinated behind a dumpster. Sesay stopped Rowley and punched him in the face.

Unaware the blow was coming, Rowley fell backwards and hit his head. At the time, he was working full-time researching technologies to improve the lives of children and adults with autism, as he worked on a master’s degree in community development.

Sesay had a very difficult upbringing and has an almost unbroken record of involvement with the criminal justice system, Rogers noted. In fact, the Court of Appeal described his criminal record as “horrendous” when it upheld the sentence in the aggravated assault of Rowley. He has convictions for violence, property offences, sexual offences and breaches of court orders.

However, Rogers found that Sesay has been addressing his drug and alcohol abuse and has completed a conflict-resolution program at Matsqui Institution.

Crown prosecutor Jess Patterson sought a four-year sentence for the crime. Defence lawyer Neil Brooks asked the court to impose a concurrent sentence of two years less a day.

Sesay’s moral culpability for the crime is high, said Rogers. “This was an attack committed without warning or provocation on a smaller victim who was given no opportunity to defend himself,” she said.

Despite the devastating and lifelong impact of Anderson’s injuries, Sesay’s guilty plea, remorse and acceptance of responsibility are mitigating factors, said Rogers. Also mitigating is Sesay’s upbringing and his “considerable rehabilitative efforts.”

Rogers concluded that a four-year jail sentence was appropriate but reduced it by six months, citing the totality principle, which states that “where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh.”

Rogers ordered Sesay to give a sample of his DNA to the authorities. He is banned for life from possessing any firearm, crossbow, restricted weapon, ammunition or explosive substance.

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