'I could hardly think of the words to describe the brutality.'

Pang man gets 18 years for vicious rape and assault


Justice Beverly Browne put denunciation, not rehabilitation, into the heart of her judgment last month when she sentenced a Pangnirtung man to 18 years in prison for the rape and brutal beating of a visiting Nova Scotia woman.

"As I was preparing my remarks, I could hardly think of the words to describe the brutality of this crime," Browne said in an oral judgment she gave last month in Pangnirtung.

Tommy Nuvaqiq, then 23, attacked the woman on June 10, 2005, leaving her soaked in blood and clinging to life.

Health workers later treated her for a badly fractured skull that left her with brain damage, a large scalp wound, a broken jaw, and numerous bruises and other wounds over much of her body.

Three years and 10 months later, the woman, now 35, suffers from permanent disabilities: a speech impediment, numbness on the right side of her body, cognitive problems and psychological trauma.

"It's a day-to-day struggle for the complainant to try to carry on her life as normal," Browne said in her judgment, which the court issued this week in a transcript.

Nuvaqiq gained entry to the woman's dwelling unit, house 524 in Pangnirtung, by smashing a window to open an outside door. The Northern Properties real estate firm had given the woman a job that summer, helping find tenants for vacant units they owned in the community.

In interviews with police, the woman, who lay asleep on a living room couch just before the attack, said she remembers waking up to the sound of breaking glass.

Then she remembers seeing "a single male."

"She remembers saying to the single male: ‘Take my money. Take everything I have, just leave me alone.' She remembers him saying: ‘Shut up,' and other things which she described as being said to her in an angry voice," Crown prosecutor John ­Solski told the court in an agreed statement of facts.

The woman, whose name may not be published or broadcast, doesn't remember much of what happened after that. Authorities have since concluded she was attacked by one man, not three, as was reported at the time.

She told police she recalls trying to stand up but being unable to focus. Then she remembers being at her neighbour's house, which she seems to have reached by crawling through the dirt until she made it to his door.

More recently, she recalled seeing Nuvaqiq "stomping on her head," but doesn't remember a weapon.

But an Ottawa neurosurgeon later told police he thought someone used a pipe, crowbar, or hammer to crack her skull.

At house 522, her neighbour's home, an RCMP member found her "completely covered in blood" and wrapped in a sheet that the neighbour had given her.

"He noticed a very large scalp wound, blood coming from her mouth and that her bottom jaw did not seem right. He described her as being unable to speak and that she was shaking and moaning," Solski told the court.

She was treated for her injuries at the Pangnirtung health centre, then over the next two and a half months at hospitals in Iqaluit, Ottawa and Halifax. She didn't return to her home in Cape Breton until Sept. 1.

Police arrested Nuvaqiq on July 16, 2005, after sending DNA samples taken from three Pangnirtung men to the RCMP forensic laboratory in Regina. Lab results showed DNA taken from Nuvaqiq was a near-perfect match for DNA taken from semen found in the woman's vaginal area.

Police then charged Nuvaqiq with attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault and break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offense.

At the time of his arrest, Nuvaqiq had been out of penitentiary about a year after serving a three-year sentence for a break-in and sexual assault. He also faced recent break-in charges related to incidents in Iqaluit in late 2004 and early 2005.

On Dec. 10, 2008, in what appears to be an agreement between lawyers, Nuvaqiq pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault. He then attended a sentencing hearing held March 12-13 in Pangnirtung.

At that hearing, Browne declared that rehabilitation is "not a very important principle [in this case] today."

That's because in Nuvaqiq's case, she found a long list of serious aggravating factors and few mitigating factors.

"The crime was one of the worst: violence, home invasion, sexual assault," Browne said.

She then ruled that Nuvaqiq should serve an 18-year sentence, minus five years credit for time spent awaiting trial.

And of the 13 years left to serve, Nuvaqiq must serve at least half of that time before he's eligible for parole.

She noted that Nuvaqiq has been convicted on two previous sexual assaults, as well as other crimes, spending most of his time since 1998 in some form of custody.

"You need help so that you can live a normal, boring life like the rest of us. You need help. You must be committed in yourself to change," Browne told Nuvaqiq.

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