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Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Canada: Owen Antoine sentenced to five years following one-night stand

Owen Antoine, who was previously found guilty of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and criminal negligence causing bodily harm, following a one-night stand with a woman he met in an Ontario bar, has been sentenced to five years in prison by Superior Court Justice Johanne Morissette.

Interestingly, Justice Morisette points out that Antoine, "seem[s] to be living in a state of mind of denial," but nevertheless said that having unprotected sex with a stranger without disclosing his HIV status was "an act of extreme callous insensitivity that must be deplored" and that this sentence sends a message "that this type of behaviour won't be tolerated."

Full story from the London Free Press, below.

Callous act nets five years
Owen Antoine, 41, knowingly infected a mother with HIV.

ST. THOMAS -- A judge admonished an HIV-positive man for "an act of extreme, callous insensitivity" for infecting a mother of two with the virus that causes AIDS.

"I hope you heard me loud and clear," Superior Court Justice Johanne Morissette said yesterday as she sentenced Owen Antoine, 41, to the equivalent of five years in prison.

With a 34-month credit given for his pre-trial time spent in custody, Antoine must serve another two years and two months.

Morissette said it was "particularly troubling" that Antoine, convicted of aggravated sexual assault and criminal negligence causing bodily harm in January, hasn't taken any responsibility for spreading the virus.

"You seem to be living in a state of mind of denial," the judge said.

Morissette said the sentence was to send a message "to Mr. Antoine and others that this type of behaviour won't be tolerated."

She called his actions "an act of extreme callous insensitivity that must be deplored."

The facts surrounding Antoine's conviction were alarming. The Trinidadian immigrant was working in construction in the Aylmer area. The victim, 30, whose name is protected by court order, had met Antoine in her former workplace.

She was walking near a construction site when Antoine approached and asked for her phone number to talk about children. He's fathered six.

In April 2006, he called her and arranged to take her to a St. Thomas bar.

She had one drink with him, then went to the bathroom. When she came back, there was a shooter drink waiting for her. The woman told the jury she remembers nothing after drinking it until she woke up in her home, with Antoine with her in bed.

She asked Antoine if they had sex and if it was unprotected. He confirmed they had.

She later found out Antoine was HIV-positive. By August 2006, it was confirmed she contracted the virus. Antoine was diagnosed in December 2004.

The woman went to the Aylmer police in October 2006.

During the trial, Antoine denied he and the woman had sex, even though he told police in a video-taped statement they had intercourse once.

Yesterday, assistant Crown attorney Kim Johnson read the woman's victim impact statement while she sat quietly in the public seating. "I felt my life was over as soon as I found out I was HIV- positive," she wrote. "It was very overwhelming to take in. It feels like somebody just sucked life right out of me."

The mother's despair was elevated because she'd been trying to reconcile with her ex-husband. That collapsed when she told him her HIV status.

"I have to tell my children about it someday and that's going to be very hard," she said, adding they only know "I'm sick."

"I just hope I can still be alive to watch my children grow up."

She said she doesn't want anything to do with Antoine.

"I want him to stay away as far as possible. Sometimes it feels like he has given me a death sentence."

She suffers dizzy spells and has red spots on her legs. She often doesn't have the energy to play with her children. "I feel like I am getting weaker and weaker day by day."

She lost her job, she said, after people found out about her HIV. She believes her boss made up excuses to fire her. She's trying to get employment benefits. Her mother has to pay her rent and expenses. She's dipped into her children's education fund for survival.

Johnson pointed to Antoine's pre-sentence report, in which he still maintains his innocence and doesn't think he needs counselling.

She pointed out Antoine's "blatant disregard to medical and legal advice that he was morally and legally obliged to adhere."

She asked for a sentence of three to six years.

His lawyer, Jim Battin, said Antoine has a common-law spouse who is supportive. He asked for time served and probation.

He reminded Morissette his client had no criminal record and called the event "a one-night stand."

Antoine has spent 511 days in pre-trial custody -- and wanted an enhanced credit of three years for that time.

He said Antoine often shared his cell at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre with four people.

Morissette rejected the proposal and gave no enhanced time credit.

She ordered counselling, "even though you don't believe counselling is important for you."

Antoine's name will be added to the sex-offender registry for life. Arrangements were made to have him give a DNA sample, required by law, at the St. Thomas hospital.



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