David Robert Hope is in court this week for one case of break and enter to commit an indictable offence, two cases of unlawful confinement or imprisonment, two cases of sexual assault and two cases of robbery, related to a Saanich incident on Church Avenue in January of 2016.

Sex assault leaves victim ‘disgusted with Victoria’

Sentencing trial underway for 2016 assault of two students on Church Avenue

Two years later, two foreign exchange students are still dealing with the trauma of a sexual assault and robbery in their Church Avenue apartment.

In the victim impact statement read during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing for David Robert Hope, the victim, a young Chinese woman, was left “disgusted with Victoria,” a place she came to study because her family believed it was safe.

Hope, 45, was recently found guilty on seven counts for breaking into an apartment and sexually assaulting and robbing two foreign exchange students on Jan. 27, 2016. He was arrested in April 2016, in Saskatoon, by a team of Saanich and Saskatoon police officers.

On Feb. 26, the jury of seven women and five men stood unanimous in finding Hope guilty of one count of break and enter to commit an indictable offence, two counts of unlawful confinement or imprisonment, two counts of sexual assault and two counts of robbery.

Crown counsel is seeking a minimum sentence of seven years for Hope. The Justice will announced the sentencing decision on Friday morning.

The victims are two young Chinese exchange students who were studying at UVic. They described their various psychological impacts from the incident in the victim impact statements read aloud by Crown counsellor Patrick Weir at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday. One of them saying they’re still haunted to this day, afraid to travel alone

“Two years afterwards I still cannot feel safe and reassured in my own home. I’m still not comfortable being alone in the evening or travelling at night,” read one of the victim’s statements.

The incident put the two students under immense pressure at university, as they found it difficult to study and were forced to make a variety of arrangements. In addition to that, peers and acquaintances concluded they were the victims.

“Friends and classmates asked me about this crime, knowing that it happened in my apartment building,” said one victim. “I had to lie.”

Immediately after the invasion the two sought relief and decided to move out from the apartment, which took about five days. However, because they broke their rental agreement, they were refused a downtown apartment when the previous landlord reported their actions in a reference check.

“I came to Victoria because [my family believed] it was safe,” one victim said. “It made me dislike Canada and disgusted by Victoria, which I thought was beautiful.”

The Jan. 27, 2016, incident lasted about 40 minutes. It started at about 7:20 p.m. when the accused banged at the ground-floor patio door of an apartment at 1514 Church Ave. (about one block from Shelbourne Street). The two women were home and opened the door for the accused.

He then forced them to undress down to their panties in a bedroom.

One of them offered him money, at which point they dressed themselves and Hope escorted them with a goal of withdrawing money from a Shelbourne ATM. Once that goal was reached, they paid the accused a sum in the low hundreds and fled to a nearby Starbucks, from which a 911 call was placed just prior to 8 p.m.

As the home invasion did not feature a weapon, masked face or significant molestation in terms of the sex assault, Weir asked the judge to consider the incident holistically and altogether as a significant incident, and “not as a low-end break and enter, a low-end robbery and a low-end sex assault.”

Hope, a father of three, maintained his innocence in a closing statement, calling the trial an eye-opener.

“I had never really seen how victims were affected, so by seeing the way [these victims] were affected by what happened to them made me think about the stuff I’ve done in the past … I’m ashamed that I’m in this box right now, I should be at home with my kids, being a role model for them. I know I have a long criminal past. I’m ashamed of that as well. I really feel for the victims from my past.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

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