ST. CATHARINES, ONT.—Four days before Christmas in 2018, a convicted sex offender drove to Smithville and forced the father of the girl he had sexually abused years earlier into the basement of his home.
What followed were hours of horror, as Alexander Bates tortured and terrorized the man and his mother-in-law.
He bound their necks, hands and feet with zip ties before attacking them with an aluminum baseball bat and leaving them for dead on the basement floor.
In Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines on Monday, the 47-year-old was sentenced to 13 years behind bars on two counts of attempted murder. Based on the amount of time he had spent in presentence custody, he must serve an additional 12 years, two months and three weeks.
The Mississauga man, now confined to a wheelchair after being shot by police outside the Smithville home, smiled several times but did not make eye contact with the victims and their supporters who packed the courtroom.
“You did a terrible thing and I hope you come to terms with it over time,” Judge Joseph De Filippis told the defendant.
“To the victims, I hope you can overcome the terrible things he did to you.”
Family members were visibly upset by the ruling.
“We were definitely disappointed in the sentence that Mr. Bates received, especially with the fact that this crime was totally premeditated, and he was previously convicted of crimes, and that our lives in the eyes of the justice system are only worth six-and-a-half years each,” said the teen’s 61-year-old grandmother, who was bludgeoned in the attack.
“As a victim of this crime I believe that our justice system needs to be overhauled and there has to be more protection from the justice system with regards to repeat offenders.”
She commended the work done by Niagara Regional Police, first responders and medical staff, and assistant Crown attorney Andrew Brown.
Brown had argued a 15-year custodial sentence was an appropriate penalty.
“He stole a young woman’s innocence for his own selfish reasons, he stole the belief that a parent has the ability to protect their child from those people in society who would do their child harm, he stole the security people are entitled to feel when they are in their own home,” he said at a prior sentencing hearing.
“He came within but a whisker of stealing their lives. But he was not able to steal their courage or their will to survive and their hopes for the future.”
The judge agreed.
“This is a close family,” De Filippis wrote in his decision released Monday.
“The ties that bind them together are stronger than the destabilizing actions of the defendant. It is my hope that, with time, they will overcome the impact of his crimes.”
The family’s nightmare began long before Dec. 21, 2018.
Bates had recently served three years in jail on charges of sexual interference that began in 2012, when the male victim’s daughter was 14.
He was also convicted of criminal harassment, after the girl’s stepmother and father discovered a tracking device on their vehicle after they attended the man’s court hearing in Brampton. Another tracking device was found on a second family vehicle.
Under conditions of his release, the family knew Bates was not allowed to leave Peel Region, nor to have any contact with them.
Even so, they were terrified he would try to track down their daughter and the family decided to do a “midnight move” to Smithville. They told few people about their new location.
On Dec. 19, 2018, Bates rented a pickup truck in Mississauga. Inside the vehicle were numerous plastic zip ties, a pair of bolt cutters, an extendable baton, a canister of dog spray and a folding knife.
Court heard Bates blamed the family for his arrest and subsequent incarceration and harboured significant resentment toward them.
During the early morning hours of Dec. 21, he drove to the family’s home and disabled the vehicles in the driveway by cutting the valve stems on the tires. He then sat in the truck and waited.
Shortly after 9 a.m., Bates approached the 49-year-old father in his driveway and forced him at gunpoint into the house. The father didn’t know the gun was an imitation handgun.
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Bates bound and gagged his former friend and repeatedly asked the man where his daughter was. He refused to divulge her whereabouts.
After being held captive for hours, Bates took the man’s cellphone and sent several text messages to the man’s wife. He requested she come home, saying something was wrong and they needed to talk.
The wife’s mother picked her up and drove her home.
When they reached the bottom of the basement stairs, the women were shocked to see the victim bound and gagged on the basement floor and Bates lurking in a corner.
The wife ran to a neighbour’s home to call 911. Her mother, however, was trapped.
The woman had her hands and feet bound by zip ties. An additional tie went around her neck.
He told them: “You’re going to meet your maker today.”
At one point, the defendant left the basement and the father was able to get a knife and free himself and his mother-in-law.
As they attempted the escape the house, however, Bates reappeared and began striking them about about the head with the baseball bat.
Assuming the duo were dead, he left the home and was confronted outside by police. When he pointed the imitation gun at the officers, he was shot multiple times.
The shooting left Bates a paraplegic. A bullet remains lodged in his spine.
Meanwhile, the father sustained a fractured skull, a concussion and several lacerations. His mother-in-law had several large lacerations to her skull which required approximately 40 staples to close.
Court heard earlier the father suffered a brain aneurism in May, which neurologists say was related to the head trauma he sustained months earlier.
Defence lawyer Vikram Singh had sought a sentence of 10 to 11 years, saying his client is remorseful and takes full responsibility for his actions.
The judge noted the defendant’s demeanour at a previous court appearance, when the victims provided powerful and emotional victim impact statements.
“I watched the defendant sit passively, his chin resting in the palm of his hand, during the account of his crimes and the statements by his victims,” De Filippis said. “I am aware of the danger of demeanour evidence, but I must note that I did not see obvious signs of empathy.”
Alison Langley is a reporter at the Niagara Falls Review