Alberta man wants to withdraw sex assault guilty plea before dangerous offender hearing

LETHBRIDGE, ALTA.—A southern Alberta man who is facing a possible dangerous offender hearing after pleading guilty to child luring and sexually assaulting a teenage girl is now applying to have the pleas withdrawn.

The lawyer for Trevor Pritchard asked a Lethbridge court to have the case put over to Sept. 24 to set a date for a hearing on a withdrawal application.

Defence counsel Bill Wister said outside court that he doesn’t believe Pritchard was aware of the implications of his pleas when he entered them in early April.

The Crown said at the time it was seeking consent to apply for dangerous offender designation, which would result in indefinite jail time.

In an agreed statement of facts presented after Pritchard entered his pleas, the court heard the accused forced a 15-year-old girl who he had met through social media to participate in various sexual acts at his home in Coaldale, Alta.

Pritchard, who was 34 when he entered the pleas last spring, is scheduled to face trial by judge alone in November on separate charges that were laid after other alleged victims came forward.

Wister, who is Pritchard’s new lawyer and will be representing him at this fall’s trial, said the withdrawal application is not a criticism of his client’s previous legal counsel.

He said a potential dangerous offender designation is much more onerous than a traditional sentence, with no parole eligibility for seven years.

For a dangerous offender application, an offender must have been convicted twice before of crimes that fall within the designated offender category.

The Crown told court in April that Pritchard has three prior convictions for sexually assaulting adolescent girls in 2004, 2009 and 2010.