The young man who bludgeoned to death a teenage girl in a sexually motivated attack three years ago exhibited a disturbing and escalating pattern of deviant behaviour and cannot be adequately treated in the youth criminal justice system, a forensic psychiatrist has told a B.C. court.
Paul Janke is the second forensic psychiatrist to testify in the sentencing hearing for the man who attacked Laura Szendrei, 15, in a Delta, B.C., park in September, 2010. The hearing will determine whether the offender – who cannot be named because he was 17 at the time of the offence – will be sentenced as an adult.
Dr. Janke interviewed the young man, now 20, four times in January and February of 2012. On Wednesday, he told Crown prosecutor Wendy Stephen in Surrey Provincial Court it was his observation that, in the months leading up to the assault on Ms. Szendrei, the young man’s deviant sexual behaviour was becoming increasingly troubling.
The offender – who told psychiatrists he fantasized about bondage, domination and sadism – had confessed to an undercover officer he had assaulted three other females in the same park prior to attacking Ms. Szendrei.
“What we see is, in a relatively short period of time, a rapid progression in [the offender’s] sexually motivated behaviour, from following individuals almost by chance, to attending trails with the expectation of seeing potential victims, to following victims, to physically assaulting a victim, to preparing tools to both subdue and restrain the victim to facilitate what he’s described as an all-out sexual assault with intercourse,” Dr. Janke said.
“It’s the definition of an escalating pattern of behaviour which is of tremendous concern because we see the end result in this case, which was … presumably, an aborted sexual assault on Laura Szendrei with the consequence of death.”
Ms. Szendrei, a Burnsview Secondary School student, was violently assaulted in north Delta’s Mackie Park on Sept. 25, 2010, and died early the next day. She had a large crack in her skull.
The court heard the young man intended to render her unconscious, either with cable ties or blows to the head with a steel pipe, and then sexually assault her.
The young man told Dr. Janke he believed having sex with an unconscious female would cure him of his anxiety and fearfulness in having relationships with girls. The doctor said this assertion had no credibility.
“It’s not uncommon for sexual offenders to talk about engaging in forceful sexual activity because they’re not capable of acting otherwise,” he said, “but for the proposition that somehow that’s going to relieve the person of that issue and allow them to function normal sexually, that’s – I’ve never heard of that.”
Dr. Janke, like Dr. Kulwant Riar a day earlier, said it was his belief the young man needed intensive, prolonged treatment and supervision that is “far outside the range” of what is available in the youth justice system.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Donna Turko noted he has been a model inmate thus far and suggested her client would not be as receptive to treatment in the harsher conditions of an adult prison.
The young man was initially charged with first-degree murder in Ms. Szendrei’s killing but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in October, 2012. If sentenced as an adult, he would receive an automatic life sentence with no parole for seven years. If sentenced as a minor, he would serve a maximum of seven years – four in prison and three in the community.
On Thursday, the court will hear from Robert Lee, whose assessment of the offender appears to differ considerably from the two doctors so far. The court has heard Dr. Lee believed the young man was clinically depressed at the time of the offence and that there are a number of “positive prognostic factors” that would reduce future risk, including family support and a solid work ethic.