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    Think before you do...

    Thu, July 1, 2004

    Prison for attacker

    Conditional sentence out: Appeal Court


    Manitoba's highest court has overturned the controversial conditional sentence handed to a man who used a car's Club to beat a complete stranger into unconsciousness. Instead, 24-year-old Erron Hogg will serve a three-year prison term for his "brutal" assault on Michael Marasco, the court ruled.

    "Finally the courts believe that the punishment did not balance out the crime that was committed. Now they're sending out the right message -- violent behaviour must be stopped and not be taken lightly," wrote Marasco in a statement given to The Sun yesterday.

    Hogg was convicted of aggravated assault last year for following 25-year-old Marasco home from the bar, calling him over to his car, and nearly beating him to death with a vehicle anti-theft device he'd been hiding behind his back.

    Hogg had apparently mistaken Marasco for someone who'd assaulted him months earlier. After Marasco was knocked unconscious, Hogg continued kicking him until his friends dragged him back into the car and fled the scene.


    As a result of the attack, Marasco suffered severe and lasting brain damage, which forced him to give up his dreams of one day being a lawyer.

    After Hogg was convicted, the Crown called for a four-year prison sentence, citing the "shocking and horrific violence" of the case.

    Provincial Judge John Scurfield instead imposed a conditional sentence of two years less a day, plus orders to complete 200 hours of community service.

    "I'm appalled, really," Marasco said of Hogg's sentence at the time. "The justice system is saying if you have a grudge against someone, you can get drunk, follow them home, hit them with a club and leave them for dead, and then just get a slap on the wrists."

    The Crown appealed the sentence and in a written ruling released yesterday, Manitoba's Court of Appeal agreed, calling the period of house arrest "lenient to excess."

    "A crime of this magnitude must be denounced and denounced loudly," the ruling reads. "If the public is to have any confidence in the administration of justice, it must be apparent that a crime such as this draws a penitentiary term. The sentence imposed was demonstrably unfit."

    The court also agreed with the Crown's original suggestion of four years for Hogg, but gave him credit for a year's worth of time spent complying with the terms of a conditional sentence, as well as for community work and counselling he's already completed.

    Maria Marasco, Michael's sister, said her family sympathizes with Hogg's parents, but they're happy the man will be doing time for the injuries he caused to Michael.

    "We're relieved, and really shocked," she said. "We didn't think this was going to go our way, but justice has been served."

    Hogg has the option of appealing the decision with the Supreme Court of Canada, but defence lawyer Sheldon Pinx said it's unlikely he'll do so.

    Hogg planned to turn himself into authorities yesterday, Pinx said.


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