Laura Brahaney has finally apologized for her weeklong trail of gratuitous violence that terrorized and later haunted three men.
Her first victim, a 25-year-old man with autism, was kidnapped from his home in September 2014 after a violent home invasion. He was bound, gagged and beaten. Brahaney and her crew looted the place, swiping computer gear, a TV, collectible coins, a safe and even the vacuum cleaner.
They kept the victim hunched over in a dog crate for more than 24 hours in Brahaney’s basement. He was denied access to the washroom, and they scrubbed his skin with a wire barbecue brush, then poured gasoline and bleach on his fresh wounds.
Brahaney, 29, beat him so badly she messed up her knuckles. (She took a picture of her knuckles and sent it to a friend, saying it happened from beating someone.)
When ransom demands failed, his captors drove him to the woods, where he was choked unconscious and left for dead. But the young man came around and made it out of the woods and to the safety of a nearby home. He had injuries all over his body, was muddy and wearing only underwear.
For this and other terrible crimes, Brahaney has now expressed remorse publicly for the first time in a handwritten letter that will be filed in court as part of her dangerous offender hearing — held to see whether she should be sentenced to an indeterminate term to protect the public.
“I would like to apologize. I’m not asking for forgiveness, I just want everyone to know that I am truly sorry,” Brahaney wrote.
She said she wishes she could take back that awful week in 2014, but she can’t.
At her dangerous offender hearing on Tuesday, assistant Crown attorney Matthew Geigen-Miller told Ontario Court Justice Hugh Fraser that Brahaney should be branded a dangerous offender for fear of future crimes, and noted that she’s shown a clear pattern of shocking, extreme violence and can’t restrain herself.
The prosecutor noted Brahaney’s lack of remorse and highlighted diagnoses of anti-social personality disorder and psychopathic traits.
Brahaney enjoyed the violence, Geigen-Miller said.
“It was recreational violence,” the prosecutor told court.
Geigen-Miller then cited examples from her “callous” crimes — including the time she lured a man to a hotel room only for him to be ambushed by her crew once he was inside. Brahaney is seen on hotel security video “tiptoeing” back to the room like an excited kid on Christmas morning “going to see what’s under the tree.”
Only it wasn’t Christmas, and Brahaney was going back inside the hotel room, where her latest victim was beaten so badly he had a bone protruding from his leg. In another scene captured on security video, Brahaney is seen leaving the hotel room with a pizza, and can later be seen sharing it with some new-found friends in the hallway while her latest victim was beaten inside the room.
Brahaney was also found guilty of terrorizing a third victim — a Vanier man she lured from a bar only for her accomplices to rob and beat him.
She was the director of the kidnapping, robbery and torture crimes, the trial judge said in March 2007 after a jury found Brahaney guilty of robbery, aggravated assault, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Lorne Goldstein, who did not represent Brahaney at trial, is now defending her at the dangerous offender hearing.
Goldstein told court on Tuesday that the Crown’s position that Brahaney is a risk for future violent crime is not supported by actual evidence and noted that she should not be defined by one week of violence five years ago.
The defence lawyer also rebutted the Crown’s position that Brahaney has not made rehabilitative strides in the past five years.
In fact, at trial, Brahaney was described as a “model resident” at an Ottawa halfway house and is “motivated to care for her daughter.”
And while she had problems with insight into her crimes and responsibility, she is now apologizing publicly.
Goldstein noted in submissions at the dangerous offender hearing that the issue before the courts is an offensive concept: prospective detention.
“Detention based not on crimes committed, but on the likelihood of future crimes,” Goldstien wrote.
If Laura Brahaney is branded a dangerous offender she will serve an indeterminate sentence that will be reviewed by the parole board in seven years, and every two after that.
A decision is expected later this year.
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