A former Port Coquitlam municipal parks worker who also coached basketball at Terry Fox secondary is behind bars after being sentenced for a sexual assault that occurred 26 years ago.
This afternoon (Wednesday), PoCo provincial court Judge Deirdre Pothecary sentenced David Murray, a former Pitt Meadows city councillor, to nine months in jail.
Murray, who is in his 60s, declined to speak at his sentencing hearing before he was handcuffed by the sheriffs and led away.
In her ruling, Pothecary said she considered society’s growing awareness — and the trend toward higher sentencing, since the offence happened — of the impact of sexual assaults on victims, especially minors.
In this case, the victim, who cannot be identified under terms of a court-ordered a publication ban, was 14 when she was working for Murray at his business, Tiger Sport Shop, at the end of the summer of 1992. At the time, he was 36.
During the trial last fall, the judge heard how the girl was seduced by Murray, who bought her clothing and dinners, for three weeks before the incident happened. The court heard how Murray had asked his young employee to come in early for work and to wear loose clothing so he could practise sports massage on her.
At the back of his Port Coquitlam store that morning, he asked her to lay down so he further his techniques, the judge said, before he digitally penetrated her. She then flipped over and he continued the sex offence. The girl completed her shift that day but never returned, the court heard.
In her victim impact statement, which she read to Pothecary from the witness stand, the woman described how the assault continued to haunt her. Afterward, she felt “unsafe,” “confused” and “vulnerable,” and wasn’t able to trust people.
“Nothing felt right any more,” she told the court.
She said she felt “embarrassed and ashamed of my body” and had suicidal tendencies. “I punished myself for it,” she said, adding, “A piece of me disappeared that I can never get back.”
The woman stated, in the past few years, she kept running into Murray while he went about his civic duties in Pitt Meadows; seeing him affected her socially and professionally, she said, and in 2016 she decided to contact police about the crime.
After the trial last October, “I was unable to continue,” she said, telling the judge she sold her business to give her more “time and space to come through this a stronger woman.”
Murray’s defence lawyer, J.R. McRoberts, asked Pothecary to impose a six-month conditional sentence order — equivalent to a jail term but served outside of prison — while Crown counsel Wendy Wakabayashi called for a sentence of nine to 12 months behind bars.
McRoberts argued Murray had no previous convictions, has faced financial ruin — he was fired from the city of PoCo, McRoberts said, though city spokesperson Pardeep Purewal told The Tri-City News he retired — has been hospitalized for depression and has encountered “intense” local and national media scrutiny because of his public service position (he resigned from Pitt Meadows council in January).
McRoberts also noted Murray, a father of two, had coached basketball for years at Terry Fox secondary, including as head coach of the girls’ teams from 2003 to ’07, and received a letter of recommendation from the program director, Don Van Os, who noted he would rehire Murray for his coaching talents.
Wakabayashi argued for jail time to protect children from such offences, especially by authority figures, a sentiment reiterated by the judge.
In addition to jail time, as part of his sentence, Murray is also on probation for three years, can’t have contact with the victim or her family, isn’t allowed to visit Pitt Meadows unless commuting, must attend counselling and is banned from working or volunteering with children 16 and under.
The court also heard Murray had hired a private investigator to follow and befriend the victim while the police investigation took place, and the judge ordered that any tapes, copies and transcripts of recordings made by the investigator be destroyed.