WARNING: This story contains details that may be disturbing to some readers.
Family, friends and a pastor of an eight-year-old girl who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted in Edmonton in March 2020 shared their grief with the court on Monday morning, as victim impact statements were read during the accused’s sentencing hearing.
The child, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban protecting her identity, was walking home from a nearby friend’s house in the McQueen neighbourhood.
That’s when Wade Stene — already armed with red duct tape, a face mask, pocket-knife and a white sheet in the back of his vehicle — grabbed the young girl, bound her up with the tape and drove her to a quiet place.
There, he sexually assaulted her before telling her not to tell anyone and dropping her back off.
Stene pleaded guilty in February to kidnapping, confining and sexually assaulting the girl, as well as unlawfully inviting a person under 16 to touch his body.
Court heard Monday that the child was terrified the man was going to eat her and kill her.
In her victim impact statement, the girl’s mother said: “I watched my care-free, adventurous daughter draw more and more into herself.”
The mother went on to say falling asleep became very difficult for her child. She had nightmares and would jump away from cars parking beside the sidewalk.
Her father called the ordeal “a parent’s worst nightmare.”
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened, not a day goes by that I don’t feel the pain and horror, and the poisonous anger that makes my blood boil,” he said.
The child’s father described feeling a “poisonous angst” that continues to burden him after what occurred that day.
“Guilt. Guilt so deep as to how I could have let this happen, how I failed as a father to protect my child. I thank God that she is still with us and curse his name that he would let this happen.”
The Crown is asking for a 20-year sentence, comparing the crime to a boulder dropped into water, with the ripples spreading throughout the community — tainting people’s feelings of safety.
“It is exceptional in its depravity, in the shocking nature of the offence committed by Mr. Stene, but more importantly, it is exceptional in the harm it’s wrought,” said Crown prosecutor Keith Nicholls.
The defense is asking for a sentence of 10 years.
Stene is now 39 years old. A Gladue report was ordered, as Stene is Métis. It takes a deeper look into an offender’s past and their familial history.
Court heard that as a child, Stene said he was physically and emotionally abused by both his father and stepfather.
Stene was also told he would never amount to anything.
He also stated he was sexually abused by a teenage boy when he was a child himself.
Defense lawyer Mark Jordan said his client also attempted suicide twice in his youth.
As an adult, Stene continued to live with his mother, and worked a number of jobs as a cook, a baker, in construction and in the oilfield.
He does not have a previous criminal record.
In a statement to Global News, the victim’s family wrote: “This has been yet another unimaginably difficult day in court.”
“There is no sentence that will satisfy us at the end of this ordeal, but we feel that we were able to express, to the degree possible, the level of terror, grief and resulting trauma that this man has inflicted not only on his eight-year old victim, but also on her family as well as the tight-knit neighbourhood where she lives and plays.”
More to come…