‘I still can’t for­give my­self’

Saskatchewan man who at­tacked woman, set her on fire not dan­ger­ous of­fender

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

A home­less woman who was vi­ciously beaten be­fore be­ing set on fire says she wor­ries her at­tacker will hurt some­one else af­ter a judge ruled Wed­nes­day Les­lie Black won’t be des­ig­nated a dan­ger­ous of­fender.

Black pleaded guilty to at­tempted mur­der in the beat­ing, burn­ing and sex­ual as­sault of Mar­lene Bird in an al­ley in Prince Al­bert, Sask., in 2014. Her in­juries were so se­ri­ous both legs had to be am­pu­tated and she lost much of her eye­sight.

“He’ll do that to some­body else,” said Bird, who is 50, out­side court Wed­nes­day. “He’s got to learn not to treat women like that.”

She said it was painful to see her at­tacker but she felt it was im­por­tant for Black to see her.

“He just looked at me and looked down,” Bird said. “Didn’t say sorry.”

Judge Stan­ley Loewen said in his rul­ing that af­ter the 2014 at­tack, Black walked to a nearby 7-Eleven and bought candy. Black then walked past Bird, who was still on fire, and ig­nored her. It was sev­eral hours be­fore Bird was dis­cov­ered and was barely cling­ing to life with burns so se­vere they ex­posed her fa­cial bones.

“Her right foot was at­tached only by a piece of skin,” Loewen said, not­ing the photos of her wounds were “quite dis­turb­ing.”

Loewen ruled while Black’s bru­tal crime war­rants a lengthy jail sen­tence and a long-term su­per­vi­sion or­der, he felt his risk to re­of­fend could be man­aged in the com­mu­nity.

The judge will sen­tence Black on Sept. 22.

Bird told court in June she can’t do any­thing on her own now, in­clud­ing sim­ple things such as pick­ing a blue­berry or go­ing to the bath­room.

In hand­writ­ten let­ters filed with the court, Bird said she has to wear adult di­a­pers, can’t con­trol her bow­els and feels dis­gusted with her­self when she can’t make it to the bath­room in time. Bird said she also fears en­ter­ing the city be­cause of the at­tack. At a March court hear­ing, Black said if he could go back to the night he at­tacked Bird, he would have taken his fa­ther’s ad­vice and stayed home.

In a brief state­ment, which Black read de­spite a stut­ter he has had since wit­ness­ing his mother’s mur­der when he was nine years old, Black said he un­der­stands that Bird and her fam­ily have not for­given him.

“I apol­o­gize for what I did,” he said at the time. “I still can’t for­give my­self.”

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