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Sex offender will be sentenced in January

A man who broke into a Westlock woman’s home and waited for her to return before confining and assaulting her is facing four years in jail, or possibly more.

A man who broke into a Westlock woman’s home and waited for her to return before confining and assaulting her is facing four years in jail, or possibly more.

Ronald Scott Hanlon, 37, pleaded guilty to unlawful confinement, housebreaking into an occupied dwelling and sexual assault Wednesday in Westlock Provincial Court, but his sentencing was put over until Jan. 11, 2012.

Although Crown prosecutor James Mahon and defence lawyer Peter Shipanoff provided a joint sentencing submission of 50 months in federal prison, Judge Norman Mackie said he thought that was fairly low, given that Hanlon has two prior sexual assault convictions.

“I confess I have a tendency to be a bit of a heavyweight when it comes to repeat offenders,” he said.

Mahon told court that on July 28, Westlock RCMP got a phone call from a man who said he believed a woman was in danger at her home. Police attended the residence, and the woman ran over to them while Hanlon fled toward the back of the property.

Initially the woman had pulled into her driveway, and Hanlon immediately ran out of the house, wrestled the door of her vehicle open and slapped her.

“He was drinking beer in the house and waiting for her,” Mahon said.

He dragged her into the house, punching her lower body several times then forcibly removed her pants. All the while, he was making threats against her, such as threatening to prostitute her.

While this was going on, the man who initially reported the incident to the RCMP phoned the house, and could tell from the woman’s voice that something was wrong. He asked if he should phone the RCMP, and she replied, “Yes.”

The woman was already wary of Hanlon because of prior contact she had with him.

“What preceded this were a number of phone calls and text messages of a harassing nature,” Mahon said.

Hanlon has a lengthy four-page criminal record, which includes several violent crimes and two prior sexual assault convictions — one in 1993 and the most recent in 2004, for which he spent three years in prison.

“Those of us who work in the criminal justice system see big records, and this individual’s is one of the most significant we will see,” Mahon said.

He and Shipanoff suggested a 50-month sentence, less two months for time served, would be appropriate given all the factors, including an early guilty plea.

Mackie questioned if 50 months was a significant enough increase from his three-year sentence in 2004, considering a judicial precedent that he said makes this offence a “major sexual assault.”

Furthermore, he suggested the main focus of sentencing would have to be both to deter Hanlon from re-offending, and satisfying the public that justice has been served.

“There will be those who would question if an additional 14 months for a repeat offence is much of a deterrent,” he said.

Shipanoff spent close to half an hour attempting to convince Mackie that the joint submission was appropriate. He said that although the actions were “revolting and disgusting,” they are very minor as far as a sexual assault goes.

“I don’t mean to trivialize the nature of the offence, but it’s my respectful submission that this is just barely a sexual assault and certainly not a major sexual assault,” he said.

Mackie ordered both Mahon and Shipanoff to provide case law examples that illustrate their joint sentencing submission was appropriate, and scheduled the hearing for Jan. 11, 2012.

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