Globe and Mail (Toronto), Dec. 2
VANCOUVER — Opposition candidates from both sides yesterday slammed the federal government’s “lackadaisical attitude” to border control for not detaining and deporting a foreign-born convict despite an eight-year history of bail violation and violent assault.
Somali native Mohamed Hagi Mohamud, 33, was convicted in 1997 of violating his bail conditions and of assault with a weapon. The latter is a deportable offence, but no deportation proceedings were initiated.
In 2002, he was convicted of assault causing bodily harm and deportation proceedings were begun. But after he completed his sentence on that charge, he was not detained.
He skipped his deportation hearing, and wasn’t arrested until after a brutal and bloody sexual assault of a Surrey woman in March of this year.
On Monday, Mr. Mohamud pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court to sexual assault causing bodily harm related to the attack on Erika Martyn, 33. He was sentenced to 4½ years in prison.
“There seems to be a lackadaisical attitude towards people being removed from the country,” Conservative immigration critic Diane Ablonczy said yesterday. “This is a man with two previous assault convictions. There’s no excuse for the rules not to be enforced.
“Our rules said no. And our rules were not enforced, and someone suffered unimaginably because of it.”
Bill Siksay, the NDP immigration critic in the riding of Burnaby-Douglas, said the situation was inappropriate and called for more resources in the system.
“I don’t know what could be more blatant than someone who has a number of serious charges against him and a history of bail violations but still slipped through the fingers of the system,” he said.
A person convicted of a violent crime who is not a Canadian citizen can be deported. If officials with Canada Border Services suspect that the convicted person may be a danger to the public or a flight risk, they can apply to detain him.
Mr. Mohamud, who was convicted of violating bail conditions alongside his assault charge in 1997, was judged to be neither a danger nor a flight risk and released in 2004. He didn’t appear at a deportation hearing that May.
Canada Border Services waited until December, 2004, to issue an immigration warrant for his arrest on the grounds he was a danger to the public and was unlikely to appear.
Spokeswoman Janis Fergusson said she couldn’t explain those decisions because of privacy laws.
Mr. Mohamud is in custody now, but his deportation hearing has yet to be scheduled, she said. She couldn’t reveal whether Mr. Mohamud has refugee status.
On March 14, Ms. Martyn was dragged at knifepoint from a Surrey Skytrain station to Mr. Mohamud’s home, where he beat and sexually assaulted her. She fought back, smearing her own blood on her attacker’s clothes, sheets and walls for evidence, and escaped.
In 2001, Mr. Mohamud originally was charged with sexual assault, but was convicted of assault causing bodily harm.
In 2003, he was charged with sexual assault in relation to an early-morning knife attack on a sex-trade worker in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, but the charge was dropped due to lack of evidence.
David Matta, the Conservative candidate in Surrey North, said dealing with crime should be on voters’ lips.
Liberal Party officials declined comment.