Sounds of sobbing could be heard in a Kamloops courtroom on Friday, Jan. 31, as a B.C. Supreme Court judge sentenced a city man to nearly three years in prison for sexually assaulting a mother and her nine-year-old daughter last year.
In sentencing 32-year-old Wesley West, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Len Marchand outlined the man’s unrelentingly tragic upbringing and laid out a potential path to a different future.
West pleaded guilty to one count each of sexual assault and sexually touching a person under 16.
Court heard West was at a party at a North Shore apartment on March 27, 2019, when he entered a bedroom and molested a sleeping nine-year-old girl. He then pulled the pants off the girl’s mother and sexually assaulted her.
The convictions were not West’s first for sexual assault. He was released from prison, where he had been serving another sexual assault sentence, less than a month before the incident last year.
West’s upbringing was described in court as “chaotic.” His mother, who previously attended a residential school, killed herself when he was five and he was raised largely by family, splitting time between Vernon and Prince George.
West has cognitive disabilities and was sexually abused as a young person. He is also addicted to alcohol.
Court heard he was picked on in school and is bullied by fellow prisoners behind bars, though corrections officials describe him as “polite and respectful.”
West cried throughout the sentencing, as did his relatives, two of whom were in court to support him. On at least three occasions, Marchand paused in apparent efforts to maintain his own composure.
“Sadly, Mr. West had a childhood no person should experience and he needs help overcoming the difficulties he’s experienced as a result,” Marchand said.
Marchand sentenced West to an effective jail sentence of more than 33 months, meaning he has 18 months remaining once being credited for time already served.
In his sentence, Marchand recommended West be housed at Ford Mountain Correctional Centre in Chilliwack, which offers intensive sex offender treatment.
West will be bound by strict probation terms for 18 months following his release from custody, including orders barring him from drinking and requiring he attend residential addictions treatment and then live in a structured environment.
The probation terms are based on recommendations made by a doctor following a pre-sentence psychological assessment.
“No one in the courtroom knows better than you how devastating sexual abuse can be on victims, and no one knows better than you how a life can be ruined by addictions. You’re clearly at a crossroads,” Marchand said.
“Your family and your community need you to be at your best. I believe you can do it. Best of luck.”