Man charged in brutal sex assault has dozens of prior convictions
A young man charged with sexually assaulting a woman in her East Vancouver home last week has dozens of prior criminal convictions in Ontario.
Caleb Heaton, 25, committed assaults, thefts, break and enters, and robberies in cities ranging from Toronto to Kitchener.
He’s now facing multiple counts in connection with a disturbing attack in Vancouver, including break and enter, robbery, sexual assault and unlawful confinement.
Heaton had a hearing in provincial court Thursday morning and seemed eager for the process to move forward, telling his lawyer he didn’t want to wait several weeks for his next appearance.
Outside court, defense lawyer John Turner declined to comment on the case, or whether his client will plead guilty or not guilty.
“I’ve only just begun to represent him,” said Turner. “I’m certainly not going to discuss any of the discussions I’ve had with him… in due time you will learn.”
According to court documents, Heaton allegedly used a rock and a knife in the violent attack, which took place in Strathcona around noon on March 26.
Police said the suspect entered through an unlocked door, tied the woman up and sexually assaulted her before choking her with clothing and completely severing one of her fingers.
Heaton’s family said he has a history of mental health issues, including severe schizophrenia. They said he also suffered depression after his father died when he was 16.
Heaton’s mother, who lives in Waterloo, Ont., told CTV News that her son has struggled for years.
“This is a young man who the mental health system has desperately failed,” said Jennifer Tuckwood. “I have begged for help for years.”
In 2012, Heaton was sentenced to nine months in jail after he robbed an electronics store with a knife. The judge in that case banned Heaton from owning weapons for 10 years.
Heaton will stay in custody until his next court appearance in Vancouver April 16.
A crowdfunding page (http://www.gofundme.com/q4ccf84) set up to provide financial support for the unnamed victim has raised more than $47,000 as of Thursday afternoon.
With reports from CTV Vancouver’s Lisa Rossington