Offender status debated

A hearing to determine if a Vernon man is a dangerous offender begins Monday in Vernon Supreme Court.

Raymond Mark Simpson, 41, pleaded guilty in March to eight counts in connection with a pair of horrific sexual assaults at the Vernon Burger King restaurant in October 2005. Simpson pleaded guilty to two counts each of sexual assault using a weapon, unlawful confinement, robbery and uttering threats.

Crown counsellor Howard Pontious said in March, following the guilty plea, he would be seeking a dangerous offender designation for Simpson.

Pontious pointed out Simpson’s lengthy criminal record, which includes two sex offences from the 1990s, when applying for the dangerous offender designation.

The hearing, slated to last two weeks, could finish with one of four outcomes: Simpson’s defence counsel could present more evidence, which would likely result in an adjournment of the proceedings in order to prepare their evidence; Simpson could be deemed a dangerous offender; he could be deemed a long-term offender, or he could be sentenced.

Simpson changed his pleas in March after 14 days of a Supreme Court trial, and after the first of his two victims testified on the stand.

Simpson told Mr. Justice G. Barrow he was sorry for his actions and that he took full responsibility for everything that happened. He also said that he wanted to spare the second victim from testifying, and reliving the ordeal of that fall morning.

Two Burger King employees were tied up with tape, had their clothes cut with a knife and were sexually assaulted in the hour before the restaurant opened on Saturday morning, Oct. 15.

A male suspect took their bank cards, PIN numbers and a small amount of cash.

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