One November evening, more than a year and a half before he would be accused of opening fire in the Eaton Centre, Christopher Husbands went to the apartment of a woman he knew in Parkdale, a low-rent district in Toronto’s west end.
He probably should not have been there, a prosecutor would later say: on bail for drug and weapons charges at the time, he was supposed to be staying with his sister.
Mr. Husbands and the woman got into an argument. In tears, she went to her room. He followed her there shortly after and sexually assaulted her. He later claimed that the sex was consensual, but a court found otherwise. On Tuesday, the 23-year-old was sentenced to a year in prison for the attack.
“He appears to have limited remorse and insight for his conduct,” Mr. Justice Rick Libman said in passing sentence. “(The assault) remains, at the end of the day, a significant violation of the sexual autonomy of the victim.”
He said Mr. Husbands had treated the situation with a “dismissive attitude,” but also described the young man as “a thoughtful and articulate individual.”
The woman’s identity is shielded by a publication ban. Neither she nor any of Mr. Husbands’ family were in court to hear the sentence. A slim man with a shaved head, patchy goatee and thin moustache, Mr. Husbands listened attentively to the proceedings.
Crown attorney Jennifer Lofft portrayed him as selfish, with a blatant disregard for the criminal justice system.
On March 29, 2010, police in Hamilton charged Mr. Husbands with several firearms offenses, marijuana possession, obstructing police and breaching probation. Released on bail, police picked him up six months later in downtown Toronto for possessing cocaine. He paid a $200 fine in that case. The sexual assault happened a few weeks later.
The victim had previously been abused by a family member, a fact which Mr. Husbands knew, Ms. Lofft said.
“This increases Mr. Husbands’ moral blameworthiness and throws his selfishness into high relief,” she argued. “It goes with a theme of Mr. Husbands, which is take, take, take.”
The firearm charges in Hamilton were dropped in April of this year and Mr. Husbands paid a fine for the marijuana. He was on bail for the sexual assault at the time of the Eaton Centre shooting, which left two men dead and five people injured.
His lawyer, Moshe Micha, said Mr. Husbands is from Guyana originally, immigrating to Canada as a child. At the age of 9, his mother returned to South America, leaving the boy to be raised by his father. He finished high school and was studying business administration at George Brown College at the time of the attack. He has a three-year-old daughter of his own, whom he has tried to support, Mr. Micha said.
He termed the crime “a case of thoughtless misjudgement.”
“He will do everything he can not to put himself in such a situation in future,” Mr. Micha said. “He is a young, intelligent man. I believe he has the tools and the potential to change, to turn his life around.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Mr. Husbands will be subject to two years’ probation, a five-year weapons ban, will submit a DNA sample and be listed on the sex offender registry for 10 years.
Mr. Husbands has been behind bars since he was arrested following the shooting last June. He faces two charges of first-degree murder and five charges of attempted murder. That case is still before the courts.