McKnight's defence argues for 5 to 9 year sentence for sex assault convictions
Matthew McKnight and his mother walk into court, in Edmonton on Friday, July 10, 2020. McKnight was charged with sexually assaulting 13 women ranging in age from 17 to 22 between 2010 and 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
EDMONTON -- The lawyer for Matthew McKnight argued in court on Friday the former night club promoter should be sentenced to between five and nine years after being convicted of five sex assaults.
Defence lawyer Dino Bottos continued his sentencing arguments in Alberta Court of Queen's Bench in Edmonton on the fifth day of the sentencing hearing.
In its submission last week, the Crown told the court it is seeking a 22 1/2 year prison sentence.
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"I've never been involved in a case where Crown and defence have been so far apart," Bottos said.
He argued Friday that the Crown had "lost perspective in this case."
"Their submissions seem to be calling for a vengeful sentence," he said.
"Something that may make some people in this public feel good. It may quench their thirst for blood, however that's not how we sentence offenders in Canada."
Bottos noted McKnight was a first-time offender with "excellent" prospects for rehabilitation.
Friday is the fifth day of the sentencing hearing. It was initially scheduled for three days last week but will now expected to continue into later this month.
The hearing is scheduled to resume on Thursday morning and may continue again into Friday.
McKnight, 33, was accused of sexually assaulting 13 women ranging in age from 17 to 22 from 2010 until 2016, when he worked at Knoxville's Tavern.
In January, a jury convicted him on five of 13 counts after he had pleaded not guilty. Court has heard McKnight met most of the women in bars and assaulted them at his apartment.
In his sentencing argument last week, Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga said McKnight's moral responsibility is huge in what he described as drug-facilitated sex assaults.
He said the judge must “denounce and deter” the vile abuse of the five women, and called the sentencing a "unique opportunity to denounce and deter."
“These are gravely serious offences and Mr. McKnight's degree of moral responsibility is high,” said Huyser-Wierenga during in his opening submission.
“He's a man who has had a privileged upbringing in many ways.”
Huyser-Wierenga has also asserted the sex assaults were "drug-facilitated" noting one of the woman only had one drink, which she testified was given to her by McKnight before she blacked out.
"She's come to and she's in Mr. McKnight's bed," the prosecutor said.
Bottos pushed back on that assertion Friday saying there was limited evidence of drug use beyond alcohol.
Bottos said there wasn't enough evidence to say that the women were drugged.
“There is no merit to this argument and it was not proven by a reasonable doubt,” he said.
Alcohol was involved, Bottos said, but he argued it wasn't used by McKnight in a premeditated attempt to sexually assault the women.
Bottos suggested McKnight didn't get proper consent from the women.
“These five women were caught up in that lifestyle,” he said.
“You can call it reckless, you can call it irresponsible. That does not mean he was predatory, purposeful.”
Bottos has also focused his sentencing argument on a video of McKnight being assaulted by his cellmate while awaiting bail in the Edmonton Remand Centre on Aug. 14, 2016.
“He was agitated and called me 'skinner' and a rapist,” McKnight said of his attacker.
McKnight required stitches and staples following the attack where he was punched to the ground and kicked multiple times in the head.
Both Bottos and Huyser-Wierenga questioned one of the guards who rushed to the scene of the beating shortly after it happened.
Bottos has argued the beating should serve as a mitigating factor in his sentence.
Last week, McKnight told the court he's worried for his safety when he goes to prison.
“It's going to be a very dangerous time and I am just hoping to survive it,” said McKnight.
Huyser-Wierenga argued the assault should have no effect McKnight's sentencing.
He said McKnight could've asked guards to protect him from his cellmate but didn't.
With files from the Canadian Press