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A man was sentenced to seven years in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to his role in a brutal home invasion that left a Russell woman bloodied and beaten.
Christopher Benn, 33, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and residential break-in with intent in a Brandon provincial courtroom. He was sentenced for the crimes on Monday afternoon.
"The circumstances of his offence are serious," Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta said while delivering her decision.
On Dec. 22, 2019, Benn and two other co-accused were kicked out of a bar in Russell because of their level of intoxication and behaviour, she said.
After being kicked out, the three men saw a truck they thought belonged to another group they had "an altercation" with parked outside a house in Russell. They broke in to assault the person living there, but had the wrong house, Hewitt-Michta said.
The men attacked the lone woman asleep in bed, who they still thought was one of the men from earlier. They hit her multiple times in the legs, side, arms and face with an unidentified weapon.
Crown attorney Deidre Badcock said during a sentencing hearing earlier in September that Benn didn’t realize they had the wrong person until they were in the throes of attacking her.
Benn was "frantic" after the assault, one of the co-accused told police. He admitted they had badly beaten someone and may have killed them, Hewitt-Michta said.
Police arrived at the victim’s house at approximately 1:30 a.m. and found her in "a terrible condition," Badcock told the court during the sentencing hearing. The woman was covered in blood, her left eye swollen shut, a fractured nose and other injuries to her body.
The victim was left with lifelong injuries and now struggles to trust people, Hewitt-Michta said. She fears the dark and also sometimes struggles to fall asleep.
"Clearly, Mr. Benn’s actions have resulted marked adverse impact and harm to the victim," she said.
Badcock asked the judge to sentence Benn to a total of between seven and 10 years in prison, while defence lawyer Norm Sims suggested a sentence of six to seven years in prison.
Hewitt-Michta said it is to Benn’s credit that he pleaded guilty and is acknowledging his responsibility in the assault. He should also get credit for not making the victim come testify during a trial.
See ‘Judge’ — Page A2
Benn had a difficult upbringing and was abused as a child, Hewitt-Michta told the court. He has serious issues with alcohol and grew up in a home where violence and substance abuse were normalized, which contributes to where he finds himself now. Sims told the court earlier in September that Benn struggles with drinking, but has made it his goal to stay away from substances when he is released.
Despite this, the judge said he is a high risk to reoffend and the fact the three men broke into the house while the woman was sleeping makes it more serious. They also were very violent in the assault and left the victim seriously injured.
Hewitt-Michta sentenced Benn to seven years in prison for the break and enter charge, along with four years concurrent for aggravated assault. In total, he will spend seven years in prison, minus approximately 416 days time already served in jail.
The judge said it was a "terrible situation," while speaking to Benn after delivering her sentence. There is nothing he can do to change what happened, only move forward to come out of jail healthy and more productive for his children.
"I have not given up on you. I really believe that you can make a change and you can turn things around, but it’s a lot of hard work on your part."
» Twitter: @DrewMay_
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