Laura Szendrei

North Delta teen’s killer is at risk to re-offend, says doctor

The objective of the young man who killed Laura Szendrei was to knock her out and have sex with her, court hears.

The man who killed 15-year-old Laura Szendrei in North Delta three years ago couldn’t control his sexual urges.

It was much the same problem he had when he attacked three other women near Burns Bog in the months prior to killing Szendrei in Delta’s Mackie Park, according to a Vancouver psychologist specializing in youth.

Dr. Kulwant Riar told a Surrey courtroom Tuesday the young man who who has admitted to killing Szendrei has a “medium-to-high” risk of re-offending. That is, unless he gets treatment, Riar told a judge during a hearing where it’s being determined whether or not he will be sentenced as an adult.

Because he committed the crime when he was 17, the killer cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Riar said the treatment he would recommend would be group therapy under specific conditions.

“He is older, we could not put him in with youth,” Riar said.

The Szendrei family cheered and applauded at the statement, taking it as a suggestion that the killer should not be sentenced as a youth.

An adult sentence for second-degree murder is life imprisonment, whereas a youth sentence carries a maximum of seven years, three years of which is served in the community.

The court heard that the killer admitted to three other sex assaults in North Delta in the months prior to killing Szendrei. In the first two, he grabbed the women, and the third he clubbed her. Those three managed to escape.

All four attacks spanned from April to September, 2010.

It was on Sept. 25, that the young man awoke at 9 a.m. with an urge to have sex, said Crown prosecutor Wendy Stephen.

He did some work with his dad and decided he was going to act on his urge. He packed a pipe and zap straps and headed to Mackie Park in North Delta, where he saw Szendrei, a girl he did not previously know.

“He told me his intention was to knock her out and have sex with her,” Riar told the courtroom.

Szendrei saw him, and ran for help. That’s when the man struck her in the head with the pipe.

Her friends ran to her aid as he made his escape, only to realize he’d forgotten the pipe and his hat at the scene of the attack. He made his way back as part of the crowd trying to help.

It’s not clear from the testimony whether he retrieved the hat and pipe.

Szendrei later died in hospital.

Her attacker was arrested in February, 2011. He was initially charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder in October, 2012.

Riar said the killer felt remorse about the crime after it happened.

“She did not deserve to die,” Riar recalled him saying.

He noted that the attacker is unable to control his libido, which is relatively easy to treat.

“If he gets aroused by the violence, that’s a different ball game,” Riar said.

The killer sat in the prisoner’s box in Surrey Provincial Court, his expressionless face tilted down, while he listened to  testimony during a hearing to decide whether he’ll be sentenced as an adult.

The hearing is scheduled for four days, but may take longer.

Stephen described the killer as a shy boy growing up, with a B-average while attending Sands Secondary in North Delta.

His youth was fairly typical, Stephen said, except for some teasing and bullying he endured early in high school. That leveled off in Grade 11, but he had noted he was still concerned he didn’t have a girlfriend at that time.

He was fond of playing badminton, video games, and told guards in prison he also liked golf, watching movies and snow-shoeing.

“I wonder every day how I could do this to someone and their family,” the accused is quoted as saying. “I have destroyed my own family.”

In arguing that he be sentenced as an adult, Crown prosecutor Christina Godlewski told Justice Robin Baird there are a few factors to consider when deciding whether to sentence someone as an adult, including the seriousness of the crime, the age and maturity of the accused and any previous record.

But Godlewski said one of the more paramount considerations is that it be “sufficient to hold the person accountable.”

Laura’s mother Rachael Szendrei spoke briefly to the press Tuesday afternoon.

“Sentencing as an adult is what he deserves,” she said. “No one deserves this, please.”

The killer’s family watched the court proceedings via video, but weren’t visible to the courtroom gallery.

The hearing is expected to continue until at least Thursday.

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