They signed up for a popular dating website, looking for friendship and love.
Instead, two Winnipeg men ended up bound, battered and bloody, at the hands of a woman they invited into their homes.
Jade Hammer, 27, was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison, after she admitted to wooing and then attacking and robbing the victims, who she targeted through the Plenty of Fish online dating service.
Hammer and a still-unidentified male accomplice “treated me like I was waste and needed to get any value from me before I was disposed of,” one victim wrote in an impact statement provided to court.
Hammer targeted vulnerable men who lived alone, Crown attorney Valerie Hebert told provincial court Judge Julie Frederickson.
“They looked to her for comfort (and) ended up trusting her to a sufficient degree for the crimes to happen,” Hebert said. “She was smart enough to go out on a few dates before carrying out her plan.”
Court heard a 40-year-old victim had gone out with Hammer a few times last fall, but had begun to think she was taking financial advantage of him. She called to apologize and asked to come over to his Lynwood Drive home “to make things right.”
Once inside, Hammer diverted the his attention as a male accomplice entered the house through a back door and held a sawed-off firearm to the man’s back. The pair gagged the man and bound his feet and hands, then took turns kicking and beating him while the other ransacked the house.
“She was a maniac and would have tortured the skin from my body if (the male accomplice) was not there to keep it somewhat civil,” the victim said. “I don’t know if I will ever be free of the trauma.”
Hammer tried and failed to use the victim’s debit card at a nearby bank machine, before she and her partner looted $20,000 in valuables from the house and sped away in the man’s automobile.
The man managed to free his legs about an hour later, and ran to a neighbour’s home to call police.
Two weeks later, she called a second Plenty of Fish target and asked if he could pick her up. Sometime after the two arrived at the man’s Coral Crescent home, an armed male accomplice entered and confronted the man. During a subsequent fight, Hammer kicked the victim in the head and the accomplice slashed him with a knife.
Hammer and her accomplice tied up the victim and took turns guarding him while the other looted the house. When they were done, Hammer tried stealing the man’s car, but could not drive a standard and eventually abandoned it, not realizing she had left her cellphone behind — a mistake that helped lead to her arrest.
The second victim spent a month in hospital, suffered a punctured lung and had his spleen removed.
“We have to speculate: what if Ms. Hammer had known how to drive a standard car?” Hebert said. “How many more attacks of this sort would she have perpetrated on more victims?”
In between the two attacks, Hammer stole more than $5,000 worth of jewelry, cash and prescription pills from the home of a man who had unwittingly agreed to help fix a flat tire on a car she had stolen.
Hammer has a lengthy record for property offences, but has never been sentenced to more than six months in custody, said defence lawyer Marc Zurbuchen, who joined Hebert in recommending the seven-year sentence.
Zurbuchen said Hammer had a childhood marred by sexual abuse, leading to a history of toxic relationships and a descent into drug addiction, most recently to methamphetamine.
“This is one very big wake-up call, and will be a significant motivator in making some changes to her life,” Zurbuchen said.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.
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