Repeat offender sentenced for violent sex attack on apartment neighbour

A psychopathic high-risk repeat offender who decided to call Edmonton home has been convicted again.

Last week, Larry Maxwell Stanford was sentenced to nine years in prison for the sexual assault, attempted choking, smothering and unlawful confinement of a woman with epilepsy.

Stanford admitted he attacked the woman, identified only by the initials J.J., in November 2017. They lived in the same apartment building at 110th Avenue and 124th Street. They had known each other for six to seven months before she was assaulted. 

There’s no indication J.J. had any idea about Stanford’s troubled criminal past.

Stanford, now 68, has spent most of his adult life behind bars. He made national headlines in 1972 when he highjacked a Quebecair plane carrying 57 passengers, becoming the first Canadian to be charged under new hijacking laws.

He was 21 at the time of the offence and in 1973 was handed a 20-year sentence.

In 1983, while he was on full parole, Stanford tried to kill his sister by hitting her more than 20 times in the head with a hammer. He left her, bloodied and partially clothed, under a pile of debris soaked in a flammable liquid. He was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 15 years.

Once Stanford finished serving his full term in 2008, he moved to Edmonton to be close to family. At the time, police issued a public warning about his presence in the community. A court order was issued, forcing him to report regularly for a year to the Edmonton police high-risk offender unit. 

Stanford came to the attention of Edmonton police again in November 2017 when they received a frantic call from a woman claiming she had been sexually assaulted.

According to a Court of Queen’s Bench decision issued last week by Justice John Gill, J.J. invited Stanford to her apartment to watch a movie. She dozed off and on throughout the evening. Around 12:30 a.m., Stanford suddenly pulled her off her armchair. She landed on her stomach on the floor. 

The central Edmonton apartment building where Larry Stanford and his sex assault victim both lived in November 2017. (Craig Ryan/CBC)

“She asked him what he was doing and told him to leave her alone,” Gill wrote in his decision, citing an agreed statement of facts entered when Stanford pleaded guilty to the charges he faced. 

Stanford began to rip off her clothing. J.J. tried to get up, but he slapped her in the face and pushed her back onto the floor. Stanford removed the rest of her clothes. She began screaming for help. 

“The more she screamed, the louder he turned the sound on the TV,” the court document states. “He began choking her with his hands to keep her quiet … She thought she was going to lose consciousness and was going to die.” 

Stanford sexually assaulted the woman for the next five to 10 minutes. Afterward, Stanford stuffed a white powder up her nose and told her it was cocaine. Testing later revealed it was a crushed-up antidepressant medication.

Stanford refused to leave the woman’s apartment. She was having small epileptic seizures, but pretended to be asleep on the floor for more than an hour until he finally left.

At 4:25 a.m., she ran to a neighbour’s apartment, crying and shaking. She told him she’d been raped and used his phone to call 911.

‘I am terrified … he would do these things to others’

In a victim impact statement dated September 2019, J.J. revealed she moved out of her apartment after she was assaulted and stayed with a friend for a month until she could find a new place. 

“I couldn’t sleep most of that time and when I did, I had a great deal of nightmares, cried a whole lot of the time,” she wrote. 

J.J. said she rarely leaves her apartment and is afraid to be around men when she is out. “I take four steps backwards as a precaution to feel more safe,” she said. 

She replaced her bed, bedding and clothing so she wouldn’t be reminded about what Stanford did to her, and expressed fears about him being let back into the community. 

“I am terrified that if Larry Stanford is released, that he would be after me again and that he would do these things to others,” J.J. wrote. 

High risk to offend again

Documents from the Parole Board of Canada indicate it was just a matter of time before Stanford offended again.

A 2002 psychological assessment describes Stanford as “a psychopathic individual with an antisocial personality disorder.”

A psychiatric assessment from the same year suggested “it is impossible to predict future eruptions of anger and violent behaviour.” Stanford was described as being a high risk for violent and sexual re-offending. 

The parole board documents reveal Stanford’s first violent offence came before the 1972 hijacking. He followed a woman into a public washroom, turned off the lights and hit her in the head with a bottle as she tried to leave.

Years later, he tried to do something similar to a female psychologist at a treatment centre. She managed to get away, but was convinced she would have been sexually assaulted if she had been taken hostage. 

Over the years, mental health professionals have described Stanford as an offender with “underlying hostility towards females and considerable potential for sexual assault.”

A 2005 risk assessment concluded Stanford would need to be “extremely well monitored” if released, noting that “any re-offence would likely involve sexual assault or very serious victim impact.”

Stanford has been in custody since Nov. 25, 2017. He will get almost three years credit for time already served, leaving a prison sentence of six years. 

Larry Maxwell Stanford became the first Canadian to be charged under new hijacking laws for his role in the Dec. 14, 1972 incident. David Halton reports. 0:57

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