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Dangerous offender's appeal unsuccessful

High court says designation not excessive

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They aren't hearing any new cases during the summer break, but judges at Manitoba's highest court have been busy catching up on paperwork with a series of noteworthy decisions.

The biggest involves a career Manitoba criminal who was given the rare declaration of dangerous offender -- a designation that comes with an indefinite prison term.

Clifford Osborne, 33, was seeking to overturn the decision on the grounds it was excessive. But the Court of Appeal has now rejected his bid for leniency in a lengthy written decision.

Appeal court judges agreed with the trial judge Osborne's 'atrocious' criminal record was grounds for the most serious sanction available.

They agreed with the trial judge Osborne's "atrocious" criminal record was grounds for the most-serious sanction available under the Criminal Code. There is no expiry to his sentence and it's possible Osborne will spend the rest of his days behind bars.

Osborne's convictions include numerous assaults, weapon offences, sex-related crimes and failing to abide by a number of court orders. He has attacked various people on the streets and in custody, often resulting in serious injuries.

His latest crime, which triggered the Crown application, was a March 2009 attack on a 25-year-old woman. She found Osborne passed out inside her home following a party and ordered him to leave. Osborne responded by violently attacking her. She suffered extensive cuts and bruising.

In another decision released this month, the Appeal Court agreed by the slimmest of margins to uphold a rape conviction in a case that boiled down to credibility.

Cladinoro Perrone was found guilty of sexual assault following a trial and sentenced to 32 months in custody. He filed an appeal, saying the judge incorrectly assessed the evidence of the young woman he was accused of attacking.

Specifically, Perrone argued she changed her story -- due largely to her intoxication at the time of the offence -- and shouldn't be believed.

Two Appeal Court judges disagreed, ruling the verdict and sentence would stand. Justice Al MacInnes took the rare step of dissenting from his peers, saying he would have overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial.

The third case also involves a sex-assault conviction. Francisco Ussa was found guilty at trial and sentenced to 30 months in prison. He has now filed an appeal and was asking for his release pending an upcoming hearing.

Justice Chris Mainella refused, saying the matter is going to be heard quickly enough that Ussa is not unfairly impacted by remaining behind bars.

Ussa was found guilty of attacking a female friend in 2012. He claimed the sex was consensual, and used a Facebook message the woman had sent him weeks earlier asking to have sex with him as part of his argument.

The trial judge disagreed, saying there was ample evidence the victim rejected his advances -- including the fact Ussa bit her on the neck along with other signs of violence.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 31, 2014 B3

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