Man pleads guilty in attack on South Surrey senior

Police respond to the report of the attack on a South Surrey senior in August of 2015 and (inset) Stephen Thomas Morse, who entered a guilty plea last week to charges in connection with the incident.   - File photos
Police respond to the report of the attack on a South Surrey senior in August of 2015 and (inset) Stephen Thomas Morse, who entered a guilty plea last week to charges in connection with the incident.
— image credit: File photos

The man who sexually assaulted a 70-year-old South Surrey senior in her home in 2015 is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

Stephen Thomas Morse, 43, of Langley was arrested on Sept. 4, 2015 and charged with aggravated sexual assault, forcible confinement, break-and-enter, robbery, disguise with intent and use of an imitation firearm in connection with the incident, which took place on Aug. 12 of that year.

A 10-day trial, originally set to begin this Tuesday, was cancelled as a result of a guilty plea entered on April 13.

Prosecutor Nathalie Fowlds told Peace Arch News Tuesday that Morse pleaded guilty to sexual assault, aggravated assault, break-and-enter, unlawful confinement robbery and wearing a face mask during the commission of the crime.

Police had issued a community warning following the brutal early-afternoon incident, which took place in a Grandview-area home.

Lower Mainland District Commander Bill Fordy Surrey RCMP’s chief superintendent at the time of Morse’s arrest described the crime as “repulsive.”

Morse had entered the residence, in the 16700-block of 28 Avenue, around noon, shortly after the victim had returned from a morning walk.

Presenting a weapon, he had restrained the victim and demanded cash and other items.

When the victim did not comply, he physically and sexually assaulted her, causing what police described as “significant injuries,” and then fled.

The victim, who was able to free herself from the restraints, went to a neighbour’s home, where she called police to report the assault just before 2 p.m.

During the investigation, police released security camera images of a suspect, wearing a baseball cap, grey T-shirt and sunglasses, using an ATM in the Brookswood area at around that time on the afternoon of the assault.

Several days after the incident, the victim and her husband reached out in an email to PAN to thank those who had helped her after the attack.

“The people in the neighbourhood were awesome, as were all of the police officers and firemen and paramedics and hospital staff and doctors and nurses at Surrey Memorial Hospital,” the victim said.

“I feel stronger every day because of them and my husband and family.”

The victim’s husband said that the couple who had marked 51 years of marriage the same month were intent on getting through the incident.

“We’re doing the best we can and we’re determined to see this thing through and not let it change our lives,” he said, noting they were taking steps to increase their home’s security after eight years of living there.

“I guess we got a little bit too complacent. When we first moved here, we didn’t even bother locking doors. We weren’t protecting ourselves like we should have. Now… the gate’s closed continuously.”

Some other residents who had contacted PAN following the incident were critical of police for not taking previous break-and-enter reports in the neighbourhood seriously enough.

with files from Tracy Holmes


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