Advertisement

Man sentenced to 5.5 years in prison over 2022 sexual assault with weapon in Charlottetown

Chief Justice Tracey Clements of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island sentenced Harley David Coleman, 31, in Charlottetown on Tuesday. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
Chief Justice Tracey Clements of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island sentenced Harley David Coleman, 31, in Charlottetown on Tuesday. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

A man who argued during his trial that he couldn't have sexually assaulted a Charlottetown woman because he belongs to a gang that respects women has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

Harley David Coleman, 31, had a long criminal record and was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet at the time of the Aug. 29, 2022 assault.

P.E.I. Chief Justice Tracey Clements sentenced him in Charlottetown on Tuesday, after he was earlier found guilty of sexual assault with a weapon and breaching a release order.

He will also be added to the National Sex Offender Registry for 20 years, on top of having to provide a DNA sample and being banned from having firearms for the rest of his life.

Coleman had been out of jail for only 34 days, after serving a previous sentence, when he was charged with sexually assaulting the woman in her home after threatening her with two knives and a taser. A publication ban prevents the posting of any details that could identify the victim.

Court documents show he told her not to resist because he had gone to jail for second-degree murder in Manitoba, although that wasn't the case.

Past assaults against women

Coleman has two past convictions on P.E.I. for assaulting women, one of them involving a weapon.

He had pleaded not guilty to the latest offence, saying he and the woman had consensual sex.

Park Street Emergency Shelter.
Park Street Emergency Shelter.

Electronic monitoring records showed Coleman's path through Charlottetown over the course of several hours the night of Aug. 28, 2022, including a stop at the Park Street emergency overnight housing complex. (Tony Davis/CBC)

He argued that he couldn't have sexually assaulted her because he belonged to a gang that had a code prohibiting violence against women.

Coleman qualified that by testifying he could he would not "hurt a woman that respects herself," adding that he knew the complainant "does respect herself."

Rehabilitation must be considered to be a faint hope at this period in time… He is a person who indiscriminately commits offences and who has a deeply ingrained pro-criminal lifestyle. — Crown sentencing arguments

The two had attended school on P.E.I. together years before a chance meeting in Charlottetown the night of Aug. 28, 2022.

Lawyers produced Coleman's electronic monitoring logs in court to confirm he'd moved around the city for hours that night, including stops at the woman's apartment, the Park Street emergency housing shelter, and the tent city near 350 Grafton St.

The P.E.I. Supreme Court building in Charlottetown.
The P.E.I. Supreme Court building in Charlottetown.

Coleman had been out of custody for only 34 days before being charged in the August 2022 assault. (Sally Pitt/CBC)

Childhood trauma, addictions cited

After his conviction, Coleman's defence lawyers submitted a Gladue report — a document detailing an Indigenous person's individual, family and community history for a judge to consider before sentencing them.

Coleman is from Berens River First Nation in Manitoba. His Gladue report showed he had been exposed to violence in his home before being sent to P.E.I. to live with relatives. According to the report, his mother was convicted of killing her 9-month-old foster daughter, and he developed addictions at a young age.

The report said he had never gotten help for the trauma he experienced.

The defence had argued for a four-year sentence on the charge of sexual assault with a weapon, compared to the Crown's request for seven years.

"Rehabilitation must be considered to be a faint hope at this period in time," the Crown told the court in its sentencing submission. "He is a person who indiscriminately commits offences and who has a deeply ingrained pro-criminal lifestyle."