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Deaf Vancouver woman sentenced for sex offences against troubled teen

Keith Fraser, Postmedia Network

( Jason Payne/ PNG)

( Jason Payne/ PNG)

A deaf woman who committed sex offences against a trouble underage girl has been sentenced to two years less a day in prison.

In March, a jury found Moreen Akumu, 36, guilty of sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, being a householder who permitted prohibited sexual activity and sexual assault in relation to the offences involving the 14-year-old girl, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban.

The victim had come to Akumu’s East Vancouver apartment building to visit a friend. Akumu, who knew the girl and her mother, invited her up to her suite and once inside the suite, gave her alcohol.

The accused and the girl later went out and bought some marijuana and more alcoholic drinks, with the girl consuming enough to become very intoxicated.

Akumu led her into her bedroom and the two engaged in oral sex together. Akumu took a sexually explicit photo of the girl. Later, Akumu phoned a male friend named Mohammed Boima and invited him over to her apartment and Boima, who was also charged and convicted in the case, had sexual intercourse with the girl.

Later still Akumu contacted the victim through Facebook, invited her back to her apartment with an offer of more alcohol and asked the girl not to speak to her mother about what had happened.

The girl, who was suffering from depression at the time, gave a victim impact statement in which she said she’d lost all trust in Akumu, referring to her as a family friend, and said she felt suffocated and “almost deranged.”

Her mom told the court that her daughter was beginning to heal from her depression at the time but that afterward she became dangerously depressed and after completing her victim impact statement had attempted suicide.

In imposing sentence Monday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barbara Fisher said there were a number of aggravating factors, including that Akumu had abused a person under the age of 18, was in a “low level position of trust”” with the victim and was aware to some extent the girl was troubled.

“Ms. Akumu provided (the girl) with alcohol and drugs, allowed her to get extremely intoxicated and took sexual advantage of her in that state.”

The judge said the primary mitigating factor was that Akumu, a mother of five who came to Canada from Uganda and is not a Canadian citizen, had no prior criminal record.

She noted that Akumu is deaf and communicates through sign language, gestures, lip-reading and some verbalization and is supported by disability benefits.

The judge concluded that the accused’s disability was a factor that she could consider in determining the length of incarceration.

“I do think it will be a challenge for Ms. Akumu to get along in a prison setting. It stands to reason that she will be limited in her ability to participate in programs.

“Indeed, with a first-time offender with her challenges, it may very well be difficult for her to protect herself in the prison population, particularly in respect of these charges.”

The Crown had called for a sentence of three to four years in prison for the May 2014 crimes, with the defence arguing for a sentence of one year to two years less a day in prison.

Akumu sat weeping in the prisoner’s dock during the sentencing, wiping away tears with a Kleenex. Due to the length of the prison term, she faces deportation after having served out her sentence.

The judge earlier sentenced Boima to 16 months in prison.

kfraser@postmedia.com

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