Eight years for assaults

Calling the offences against sex trade workers “very serious,” a provincial court judge sentenced a Vernon man to some serious jail time Tuesday.

Calling the offences against sex trade workers “very serious,” a provincial court judge sentenced a Vernon man to some serious jail time Tuesday.

Michael Hans Bopfinger, 36, was sentenced by Judge Al Betton in Vernon Provincial Court to eight years of new jail time in connection with three horrific assaults against Vernon sex trade workers in June and July of 2009.

Bopfinger, who was given credit for three years for time served after his arrest in July ‘09, pleaded guilty to counts of aggravated sexual assault, unlawful confinement, sexual assault with a weapon, robbery and attempted sexual assault.

Crown counsel Howard Pontious gave specific details of the assaults, pointing out that Bopfinger would lure the women into his noisy white van, hold a knife to them – Bopfinger cut one of the victims near the lip as he held a knife to her throat – and have the women perform sexual acts on him.

He was caught after one woman managed to escape from the van and called police on her cell phone.

Bopfinger, who appeared in court by video from a provincial institution, sat with his arms folded for most of the 25-minute proceedings.

He did bow his head at one  point when Pontious recounted one of the attacks on a victim who was strangled three times by Bopfinger, yet survived.

Defence lawyer Jennifer Thorne read a statement from Bopfinger, who apologized to the victims, his family, the court and his community.  Thorne said he accepts the punishment and vows to take counselling in prison to be able to return as a productive member of society.

Bopfinger must provide a DNA sample and will be required to register as a sex offender.