A former nurse who kissed two patients while they were sedated was sentenced Wednesday, a year after he was convicted of sexual assault.
Abihudi Imbai was handed six months each for two counts of sexual assault, but will serve the sentences concurrently and not spend any time in prison.
“I am satisfied that you serving the sentence in the community will not endanger the safety of the community,” said Judge Garth Smith as he sentenced Imbai in Port Coquitlam provincial court.
Imbai’s lawyer Daniel Markovitz had sought a conditional discharge for his client, which would have kept his record clean, but also argued to keep Imbai off Canada’s sex offender registry, a request which Smith rejected. Imbai, 35, was convicted on two counts of sexual assault last August after a three-day trial.
Known on the ward as “Nurse Abbi”, he inappropriately touched and kissed two sedated women at Ridge Meadows Hospital on June 11, 2012.
The court heard Imbai administered opiates to both women then proceeded to caress their faces and kiss their lips as they slipped into sedation.
In her stupor, one woman tried to push Imbai away but he continued to touch her. The second woman woke up to find Imbai lying in her bed, with his head between her breasts.
Imbai’s lawyer argued the former registered nurse believed he was doing nothing wrong. He suggested the incidents were a cultural misunderstanding.
Markovitz told the court Imbai was a good man, with strong connections to his family and church.
He claimed no sentence would punish Imbai more than he had already been punished.
A pre-sentence report found that Imbai was a “low risk” to reoffend but noted his denials of the offences make it hard to assess his risk.
The report also revealed that Imbai had been sexually assaulted for several years as a child.
Judge Smith did not consider Imbai a credible witness and found his evidence inconsistent during the trial.
“He abused his position of trust,” said Smith during sentencing.
“He was aware of the sedative effects of the medication. He took advantage of their vulnerable states when he sexually assaulted them.”
However the judge noted that it was positive that Imbai had sought counselling on his own accord until he couldn’t afford to and continues to be willing to seek help.
When Judge Smith asked he wanted to say anything to the court, Imbai declined.
Smith ordered Imbai to serve the six-month sentences in the community, which means he will be bound by strict conditions that include a curfew.
Imbai will only be allowed to leave his home for work, medical appointments and must receive written approval from his conditional sentence supervisor for any other leave.
He is also prohibited from working or volunteering as a health care provider unless he receives prior approval and must have a supervising adult with him at all times.
In addition to the six month sentences, Imbai received an 18-month probation order, with similar restrictive conditions. He will also be registered as a sex offender for life.
As Judge Smith handed Imbai his sentence, his victims, seated in the front door, held hands.
Outside court, the women said they were relieved that an ordeal that began more than two years ago is finally over.
“I’m elated,” said one woman, adding she was impressed by the case Crown prosecutors presented to the court.
Both women believe there are more victims out there and encouraged those women to speak to police.
“Reach out for help,” said the second woman.
“It was a two year battle to see this through. But we showed up to every fight and won.”