Still proclaiming his innocence, the man convicted of sexually assaulting a woman he met through the Plenty of Fish online dating site will almost certainly face deportation after he is sentenced.
What a Regina Court of Queen’s Bench judge has to decide is how much prison time the crime merits.
Gioulian Nikdima, 50, was found guilty in September of sexual assault causing bodily harm to a now-49-year-old woman. The case was back before the court on Monday, when Justice Fred Kovach heard sentencing arguments from Crown and defence counsel.
While defence lawyer Nicolas Brown agreed with the Crown case law in the province dictates a federal prison term is necessary, he argued for less time than Crown prosecutor Randene Zielke. The Crown asked for a sentence in the range of five years; the defence sought a term closer to three.
In either case, Brown noted deportation is a likely outcome. Court heard any sentence over six months sparks such proceedings.
Kovach’s decision was tentatively set for Dec. 18.
During the trial, court heard Nikdima and the woman chatted online for a brief time before deciding to meet over coffee.
The two agreed to go for lunch afterward and then talked about going for a walk. Nikdima drove the two of them to a rural area near the city where the sexual assault occurred.
Nikdima and the woman disagreed on what happened after they arrived. The woman testified Nikdima raped her in the backseat of his vehicle while Nikdima said the sex was both fully consensual and even led by the woman.
Kovach determined there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove the sex was non-consensual — but only up until Nikdima performed anal sex on the woman. At that point, court heard, Nikdima ignored the woman’s pained screams and continued to engage in sex. Kovach found Nikdima’s claims to the contrary — that the woman had been a willing and enthusiastic participant in the act — unbelievable, in large part because of the nature of the resulting injuries.
In arguing for a sentence above Saskatchewan courts’ three-year starting point for major sexual assault, Zielke referred to the injuries, which included bruising and a significant tear to the woman’s anus. The prosecutor pointed out two nurses who examined the complainant testified the injury was among the worst — or even the worst — they’d seen when compared to other similar lacerations.
Zielke also spoke about the significant psychological impact the offence had on the woman, causing PTSD and impacting her ability to form new relationships.
In a victim-impact statement, the complainant wrote she is still haunted by the offence. She said she didn’t just suffer physically, but experiences anxiety, depression, insomnia, nightmares and flashbacks, and has taken steps through counselling to try to find a way through.
“The fear and the terror of that day are never far away …,” the complainant wrote. “I know I will never be the woman I was before this happened, and I have a lot of work to do to just be OK.”
In seeking the lesser term, Brown argued the offence, while serious, occurred as part of an “escalation” from what had previously been consensual sex — or at least sex that hadn’t been proven non-consensual. Brown said his client, based on the court’s decision, went “too far” but added there was no evidence of pre-meditation.
Brown pointed out Nikdima — who came to Canada from Greece in 2013 — has no previous criminal record and has diligently followed the terms of his release conditions.
Nikdima took advantage of an opportunity to speak by once again insisting he’s an innocent man.
“My only mistake on this case was meeting that woman,” he said.