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Psychiatrist’s testimony at Szendrei hearing paints picture of killer’s libido

Laura Szendrei, shown in a file photo, was killed in Mackie Park in Delta, B.C., in September, 2010.

JEFF VINNICK/The Globe and Mail

The day he killed Laura Szendrei, the young man awoke at around 9 a.m., with tentative plans to help his father install a washing machine. Instead, he claims he was suddenly overcome with an urge to have sex – or rather, to knock a girl unconscious and sexually assault her. He packed a bag with cable ties and a metal pipe and headed out to a wooded area of Mackie Park in Delta, B.C. It was a Saturday.

The narrative was contained in the testimony of Kulwant Riar, a forensic psychiatrist commissioned to assess the mental state of the man – who cannot be named because he was 17 at the time of the offence – who bludgeoned to death the 15-year-old girl almost three years ago.

Dr. Riar testified in Surrey Provincial Court on Tuesday and is one of three forensic psychiatrists in all who will speak at this week's sentencing hearing to determine if the offender will be sentenced as an adult. Dr. Riar interviewed the offender on four occasions and produced a report in May, 2012.

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The offender's actions are driven by a libido he cannot control, Dr. Riar told the court. His impulses for deviant sexual behavior also combined with a deep insecurity – a feeling of being "frozen and fearful" when it came to relationships with girls, he said. The young man was frustrated and blamed himself for his anxiety.

The doctor did not believe the offender acted on impulse the day of Ms. Szendrei's attack, saying he was "well prepared, with a plan and a backup plan, and acted according to this plan," according to his report.

He is at a "moderate to high risk" to reoffend, Dr. Riar said.

If sentenced as an adult, the young man 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 jail and three in the community.

Dr. Riar said the offender could benefit from group treatment, however it would not be feasible to put the offender, now 20, in a group with young teenagers in the youth system. The statement drew applause from Ms. Szendrei's mother, Rachel, in court.

"I truly believe he will get a life sentence and be sentenced as an adult," Rachael Szendrei said outside the court. "That's what he deserves. God willing, and the judge, that's what will happen. Laura deserves this, please."

Ms. Szendrei, a Burnsview Secondary School student, was violently assaulted in the north Delta park on Sept. 25, 2010, suffering a large crack on her skull from multiple blows. She died early the next day.

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The young man told Dr. Riar his intention was to "knock her out and have sex with her" and he did not think hitting her with a pipe would hurt her.

"I thought he had the general intelligence to the level that he should know that [it would hurt her]," Dr. Riar said.

On Monday, the court heard the young man had admitted to undercover police he committed three other sexual assaults or attacks in the months prior to attacking Ms. Szendrei.

The young man was initially charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in October, 2012.

The hearing continues.

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