A man suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome who sexually attacked three women in separate and random acts this spring should spend two more years in prison, a Crown prosecutor argued Thursday.
Michael McLean, 35, pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault that occurred in May this year.
Prosecutor Chris Balison said McLean turned himself into police May 27. His confession to police came few hours after attacking a woman in Brocklehurst, managing to pull her pants down, with his hands on her throat, before she attracted help from people nearby.
In all three instances women fought off attacks from the small native man, who is now held in protective custody at KRCC.
“Mr. McLean is targeting vulnerable women in our community, with the intent of sexually assaulting them,” Balison said.
“These women had the ability and courage to fight Mr. McLean off.”
McLean’s random attacks started May 14 this year, when RCMP were called to the West End on Seymour Street following a report of an early morning attack.
The woman on foot was followed by McLean, who eventually grabbed her from behind.
He had a leather belt in his hand and tried to drag her into the driveway of a residence, telling her he would sexually assault her.
But the woman punched at McLean and yelled, attracting attention of a neighbour. He then fled.
That evening he attacked a jogger in 19-year-old jogger in Riverside Park, running up behind her.
The jogger swung her elbows in self-defence and batted away McLean’s hands, Balison said. The attack lasted less than 30 seconds before McLean ran into the forested riverbank and toward Overlander Bridge.
In the final attack, he followed a woman walking beside Fortune Drive in Brocklehurst in the early morning hours of May 27. She was coming home from a party.
“He grabbed her and pushed her up against the wall of a church,” Balison said.
But, like the first two attacks, the woman fought off McLean and yelled to attract attention, but not before her pulled down her pants. At one point he had his hands around her throat.
A few hours later he walked into the RCMP detachment downtown, turning himself in and admitting to all the details.
McLean pleaded guilty in court at the earliest possible date.
In a victim impact statement, one of the women said she became introverted and anti-social following the assault. She was off work for six weeks and suffered sleeping problems.
Defence lawyer Don Campbell said McLean’s attacks came after funding ran out on a social program, where he was housed and supervised.
“He’d made incredible strides and met with significant success. The funding was cut off after three years.”
He was convicted of common assault after he attacked a woman on Overlander Bridge in 2009.
McLean suffers from fetal alchohol syndrome. He managed to finish Grade 12 and has worked as a line cook and dishwasher. He worked at Carlos O’Bryan’s downtown at the time of the attacks.
“The support system was abruptly pulled away from him,” Campbell said. “It was pulled and he panicked.”
The defence lawyer argued for an additional one year in jail for his client.
B.C. Supreme Court justice Hope Hyslop reserved decision until Wednesday next week.
Experts who issued pre-sentence reports on McLean said he was remorseful but lacked insight into his actions.
Campbell said that lack of understanding may be a product of his brain damage from fetal alcohol syndrome. Understanding of FASD is still primitive and there are no available treatments to address it directly.
Campbell said hallmarks of the disease include alcohol and drug abuse as well as lack of impulse control. The result is some people with FASD end up in jail.
“He doesn’t present as an easy fix.”
But Campbell said McLean wants to access counselling for alcohol abuse and sex offending while in jail. He also agreed McLean needs three years probation, including an evening curfew.
McLean was asked to speak by Hyslop.
“Whatever the sentencing is I’ll go with it,” he said. “I want to go forward and get the help I need.”