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Leslie Black gets 16-year sentence for brutal beating, burning of Prince Albert woman

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Marlene Bird (left) rests in hospital with her aunt Lorna Thiessen after she was attacked and burned in 2014. (Postmedia Network/Files)

Marlene Bird (left) rests in hospital with her aunt Lorna Thiessen after she was attacked and burned in 2014. (Postmedia Network/Files)

Leslie Black, the Saskatchewan man who viciously beat homeless woman Marlene Bird before setting her on fire, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Leslie Black pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the beating, burning and sexual assault of Marlene Bird in an alley in Prince Albert in 2014. Her injuries were so serious both legs had to be amputated and she lost much of her eyesight. According to medical records made public the same day, Bird suffered burns to about 40 per cent of her body. Doctors removed what they described as “mummified” tissue, performed multiple skin grafts and kept her in a coma for several days. The fire left Bird with third- and fourth-degree burns.

Black was sentenced Friday in Prince Albert court. The Crown had been seeking a sentence of 20 years to life, while the defence was asking for a sentence of 15 years. Judge Stanley Loewen gave Black credit of four years, eight months for time already served, so he still faces a little more than 11 years in prison.

Loewen also ordered that Black be supervised for 10 years after he gets out because of the “bizarre” nature of the attack.

This past August, following a hearing, Black was not declared a dangerous offender, with Judge Loewen saying that while Black’s brutal crime warrants a lengthy jail sentence and a long-term supervision order, his risk to reoffend could be managed in the community.

“He’ll do that to somebody else,” said Bird, who is 50, following the dangerous offender ruling. “He’s got to learn not to treat women like that.”

She said it was painful to see her attacker but she felt it was important for Black to see her.

“He just looked at me and looked down,” Bird said. “Didn’t say sorry.”

In June, Bird told court she can’t do anything on her own now, including simple things such as picking a blueberry or using the bathroom. In handwritten letters filed with the court, Bird said she has to wear adult diapers, can’t control her bowels and feels disgusted with herself when she can’t make it to the bathroom in time. Bird said she also fears entering the city because of the attack.

At a March court hearing, Black said if he could go back to the night he attacked Bird, he would have taken his father’s advice and stayed home.

In a brief statement earlier this year, which Black read despite a stutter he has had since witnessing his mother’s murder when he was nine years old, Black said he understands that Bird and her family have not forgiven him.

“I apologize for what I did,” he said at the time. “I still can’t forgive myself.”

A psychiatrist told the dangerous offender hearing that Black has at least eight separate conditions, including antisocial personality disorder, childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and suspected fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

— With files from Prince Albert Daily Herald and Canadian Press