Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rapist's arrest caught on video by police helicopter

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It began with a random attack in a Winnipeg parking lot -- and ended with a police dog biting the fugitive in the face as he took cover in a swamp.

Now the public can get a birds-eye view of how a massive Manitoba manhunt ended, thanks to a police video which shows the dramatic final moments of the three-hour chase that covered more than 100 kilometres.

A judge agreed to release the video Friday following a formal request from the Free Press. The footage was shot by AIR1, the Winnipeg police helicopter which helped track the suspect from the sky near Portage la Prairie in June 2011.

The video was played earlier in the week at the sentencing hearing for Clay Byron Starr, who pleaded guilty to numerous charges stemming from the terrifying incident which saw a 16-year-old high school honours student carjacked, kidnapped and raped.

The Crown is seeking a 14-year prison sentence for Starr. Defence lawyer Jay Prober told court Friday his client should only be given six years behind bars. A sentencing decision is now set for Oct. 17.

Court heard this week how the teen victim made a courageous phone call that likely saved her life, helping police pinpoint the location of Starr as he tried to get away at speeds reaching 180 km/h.

"I don't want to die," the girl whispered to a 911 operator while in the backseat of her own Chevrolet Lumina, then being driven by a drunken, hulking man who made his intentions clear by repeatedly stating he was going to kill her.

A recording of her frantic call was played in court to build the case against Starr, who is an associate of the Manitoba Warriors gang and has a lengthy, violent criminal history.

"This is the type of offence that strikes at the heart of a community and strikes fear in citizens that they, too, could be victims of this type of random act of violence," said Crown attorney Nicole Roch.

Prober told court Friday his client deserves credit for pleading guilty and sparing the victim from testifying. He painted Starr as a deeply troubled man who comes from a horrific background of abuse and neglect.

"This is a young man who really had no chance," said Prober. He said Starr was introduced to crime at the age of six by an older brother who got him to help commit break-and-enters while growing up in the community of Sandy Bay. Starr began using marijuana at the age of eight, and cocaine by 14, court was told.

"I'm sorry for what happened," he told court Friday.

Several investigators involved in the case, including members of the canine unit and helicopter unit, testified this week about their roles.

"It was frustrating to know the victim was out there and we were sort of one step behind," said Const. Scott Taylor, who ultimately arrested Starr in a swamp near Portage la Prairie -- along with help from his four-legged pal, Judge.

Starr claims he has little memory of the attack because he had downed a bottle of vodka and some prescription pills in the preceding hours.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 7, 2013 A11

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