A former Edmonton nightclub employee convicted of sexually assaulting five women has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Matthew McKnight, 33, was accused of sexually assaulting 13 women ranging in age from 17 to 22 between 2010 and 2016.
Court heard McKnight met most of the women in bars and assaulted them at his apartment. He pleaded not guilty, but a jury convicted him on five counts.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Doreen Sulyma sentenced McKnight to 16-and-a-half years, but reduced his sentence to 10 years based on the totality principle.
“A sentence of 16.5 years simply exceeds what would be just and appropriate,” she said.
His sentence was further reduced due to an assault McKnight suffered at the Edmonton Remand Centre and the judge’s belief the former nightclub consultant has an excellent chance for rehabilitation.
“The system needs to do better in dealing with allegations of sexual violence,” Crown prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga said. “We’ll ask this rhetorical question, ‘Is this sentence of eight years for somebody who is legally classified as a serial rapist, is that adequate?'”
As the judge went through her sentencing and explanation, a group of women stood up and linked arms. One woman then yelled out and lunged at the defence table, knocking over an item. The incident caused the courtroom to be briefly adjourned.
“Hearing the Crown say 22 years, I genuinely had this crazy hope that maybe this is, you know, just… I just had higher expectations and hearing eight years and hearing it go lower and lower, it just made things worse,” said a woman who told Global News she is a victim of McKnight’s. Global News is not identifying her because she is the victim of a sexual assault.
“They were extremely brave in our view throughout and they’re disappointed obviously. You heard some of that in the courtroom,” Huyser-Wierenga said. “They’re emotional —several of them — and disappointed. The end result here has obviously not satisfied them.”
The prosecution asked for a sentence of 22-and-a-half years in prison, while McKnight’s lawyer suggested five to nine years.
“You only get above 18 years or 20 years if you’re perpetrating multiple sexual assaults on your children or stepchildren and over a lengthy period of time, those are the guys who get that kind of sentence, not a first-time offender with five separate incidents,” Dottos said.
After sentencing ended, clapping could be heard in the court as McKnight was handcuffed.
During the trial several victims told court that they have had nightmares, thoughts of suicide and anxiety since they were attacked.
The Crown said it will consider applying for an appeal of the sentence.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the end result is we make that type of recommendation to our colleagues,” Huyser-Wierenga said
The Crown has 30 days to launch an appeal.