Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Man charged in Halifax sexual assault has violent past

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A man accused of breaking into a Halifax residence and sexually assaulting a woman Friday has been the subject of at least two public warnings by police after his release from prison in the past.

Sem Paul Obed, 47, is charged with break and enter, choking to overcome resistance, aggravated sexual assault, uttering threats and two counts of breaching a peace bond.

Obed tried to pull his sweater up over his face as he was escorted past news cameras into Halifax provincial court Monday.

Duty lawyer Alex McKillop asked that the case be adjourned for a few weeks so Obed can apply for legal aid.

Judge Michael Sherar scheduled the case to return to court June 20 and remanded Obed back to the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth. Obed will appear in court by video that day.

"We clearly are going to be opposed to this person’s release,” Crown attorney Carla Ball said outside court.

“The allegations are extremely serious.”

The victim’s identity is protected by a publication ban. Ball wouldn’t provide details on the woman’s injuries but said “aggravated sexual assault by definition (is) where somebody is sexually assaulted and in the course of being sexually assaulted has an injury such that they are wounded, maimed or disfigured. It’s an injury that is beyond something superficial.”

Halifax Regional Police received a report Friday at about 11:50 a.m. that a man had entered a dwelling in the 6000 block of Cunard Street and sexually assaulted a woman before fleeing.

Police arrested Obed late that afternoon at his home on McFatridge Road in Halifax.

Obed was considered a high risk to reoffend in a sexual and violent manner when he was released from prison and took up residence in Halifax in August 2014, police said in a notification to the public back then.

In that advisory, police said Obed had a criminal record going back to 1984 that included convictions for attempted murder, sexual assault, aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.

In November 1999, police issued a high-risk offender notification after Obed, a native of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., was released from Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick and made it known he was heading to Halifax.

Obed had served every day of a 70-month sentence for attempted murder, sexual assault, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon and break and enter. At the time, his record included four violent attacks on women.

In 2000, a Halifax provincial court judge dismissed a Crown application to place Obed on a one-year peace bond, saying there was no “present fear” that he would cause a serious personal injury.

The Crown appealed, but a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge upheld the lower court’s decision.

Obed was later charged with sexually assaulting a woman in his Halifax apartment in June 2005. He was also charged with a September 2006 sexual assault in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and then five counts of sexual assault against a male inmate at the Labrador Correctional Centre in 2007.

Court records indicate the Crown obtained a two-year peace bond against Obed in Dartmouth provincial court in August 2016.

The new charges allege he breached two conditions of the bond by failing to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and by consuming, purchasing or possessing alcohol or drugs.

If Obed is convicted in this matter, the Crown could seek an assessment of whether he meets the criteria to be declared a long-term offender or a dangerous offender.

“There are different applications that the Crown can make when we are concerned about somebody being a danger to the public on an ongoing basis,” Ball said. “We will be pursuing an assessment of his history. That’s all I can say at this point.”-Herald News
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