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Classified as a dangerous offender for preying on vulnerable women on the streets of Winnipeg, a 54-year-old man will spend the next eight years in prison, a judge has ruled.
Douglas Bowman will be under supervision for 10 years after he's released from prison — the maximum long-term supervision order that can be imposed on a dangerous offender in Canada. It means he will essentially be on parole for a decade after his release and will have to follow any conditions the parole board sets.
Crown and defence lawyers agreed Bowman should receive maximum supervision after his sentence, which Court of Queen's Bench Justice Joan McKelvey imposed Thursday, noting he has not shown any remorse or empathy for the victims of his "traumatic and violent" sexual assaults.
"Bowman has demonstrated a failure to control his sexual impulses in the past," McKelvey said as she read a portion of her 33-page decision in court Thursday. "There is a likelihood of him causing injury, pain or other evil through the failure to control those impulses in the future."
McKelvey sentenced Bowman to 14 years and gave him time-and-a-half credit for each day he's spent in custody since his arrest in September 2014. McKelvey convicted him in July 2017 on two counts of sexual assault with a weapon and two counts of uttering threats for attacking two women who were working in the sex trade in 2010 and 2013. He sexually assaulted them at knifepoint inside his minivan and threatened to kill them.
Bowman told police during a 13-hour interview that he had picked up between 200 and 300 sex workers over 26 years and was violent or had threatened violence with about half of them.
His admissions to police were only fantasy, Bowman later said during a psychologist's assessment. He still denies attacking the two women and claimed his past sexual offences were only pranks. He was convicted on five counts of indecent assault and one indecent act from the mid-1970s to early 1980s, and in 1983 he was convicted and sentenced to six years for rape, showing a pattern of using violence as a sexual preference.
A psychiatrist and a psychologist both assessed Bowman as being a sexual sadist with signs of anti-social personality disorder. He still has the support of his spouse, but he's been classified as a high risk to reoffend and has refused to participate in sex-offender treatment beyond the two sessions he completed in 1986.
The attack on his most recent victim, a then-20-year-old woman who had to be hospitalized after Bowman picked her up in the North End, was particularly "brutal," McKelvey wrote in her decision.
The woman testified Bowman repeatedly sexually assaulted her April 1, 2013 while holding a knife and threatening to kill her if she didn't stop screaming. He told her she and all the other "slutty girls" deserved what was happening to her. When she tried to pepper spray him, he took the canister from her and wiped pepper spray in her eyes before throwing her out of the vehicle.
"Not only did this man traumatize me for one night, what he did to me impacts my life each and every day," she wrote in a victim impact statement.
"I'm still dealing with the aftermath of what this monster did to me. I often ask myself will this ever go away. Will I ever be able to move on from this? This is just the emotional results. The physical pain and scarring I went through was so bad I can barely walk. Till this day, I don't take any type of pain meds because the feeling I get when I do take them reminds me of my stay in the hospital," she wrote.
Bowman, who has a Grade 9 education and has been unemployed for much of his life, is cognitively impaired and was severely abused as a child. His father beat him so badly he was hospitalized for six months and may have suffered brain damage, defence lawyer Laura Robinson told McKelvey during his sentencing hearing at the end of September.
His "lengthy history of delinquent behaviour involving assaultive actions towards females," as described in one assessment from the 1980s, led to him serving an adult sentence in Ontario for the rape he committed as a youth, and justice officials warned he had already exhausted all the resources Manitoba's youth justice system could offer him. His record includes 27 convictions, including for several thefts and breaking and entering.
Crown prosecutors were seeking a 20-year prison sentence in addition to the 10-year supervision order, while defence asked for a nine- to 11-year sentence.
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.