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Chronic crack addict sentenced to 12 years for sex assaults

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A Winnipeg crack addict who randomly robbed and violently sexually assaulted two Winnipeg women at knifepoint downtown has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

Garry Junior Edwards, 34, learned his fate today after an hours-long sentencing hearing detailing his crack cocaine-fuelled attacks on two innocent city women in April 12, 2012.

Edwards grabbed a 21-year-old woman off the street near Cityplace at 10 p.m. and threatened to stab her if she didn't comply.

He took her purse, then dragged her away to a more secluded area and sexually assaulted her. The victim was able to break free and help was sought — but not before Edwards escaped into the night.

He struck again around 10:30 when he followed a 27-year-old woman into a Donald Street apartment block and robbed her in an elevator. In the course of the robbery, Edwards sexually groped her, only to then drag the victim off to a secluded stairwell and rape her.

"I do believe this was very violent and one of the most serious sexual assaults with a weapon that can happen," provincial Judge Brent Stewart said.

The victim described in an impact statement how her once bright perspective on life has been sullied by the senseless attack. She's been afflicted by terrible dreams in which she relives what happened, Stewart was told. "It was always just the elevator, the knife and him — over and over," the woman wrote.

"The worst thing that was taken this night was the person I was. I loved life. I was happy," she said. "I no longer have the zest for life or the drive and ambition I once had. I'm no longer me."

After raping the woman, he stole her Jeep and used it to get away from the crime scene. Police spotted him not long after on Balmoral Street and moved to catch him.

A high-speed police chase ensued which saw Edwards smash into parked cars, hit a police car and take a run at officers. He eventually lost control of the vehicle, fled on foot and had to be found and taken down by a police dog. DNA tests came back linking him to the Donald Street attack.

Edwards has had a nearly life-long addiction to crack cocaine and set about robbing the women for drug money.

He has a lengthy criminal history and has failed past court-ordered efforts meant to help him get a grip on his substance abuse problem.

The assaults were "unimaginable — and cannot be explained away by cocaine or alcohol or anything," Stewart said.

 

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