On Thursday, Leslie Black’s father sat in Prince Albert’s Provincial Court as a judge granted Black a chance to reverse his previously entered guilty pleas for the brutal assault of Marlene Bird.

Bird was set on fire, stabbed, and sexually assaulted in Prince Albert’s downtown on June 1, 2014.

As a result, she’s had both legs amputated and is wheelchair-bound. Bird has also needed multiple skin grafts and facial reconstruction. She’s been living in Timber Bay, but can occasionally be seen visiting with people in Prince Albert’s downtown.

Leslie’s father Solomon Ian Black knew Bird before the attack, and spends a lot of his time downtown as well. He, too, has amputated legs and gets around by wheelchair. When Leslie was arrested for aggravated sexual assault and attempted murder against Bird, Solomon was deeply affected.

“It was very shocking to me, and I did break down. And I think I must have, just about had a nervous breakdown, just about lost it. Because I just couldn’t believe that what I was hearing was true,” Solomon said.

Public outrage about the violence against Bird has been well-documented. The fact that much of it is targeted toward his son hasn’t been easy for Solomon, who was unable to describe how it made him feel, simply saying “lost.”

Leslie had lived with Solomon at the time, and Solomon said he remembers the night that Marlene was attacked.

“He was drinking eh, and I was kind of worried about him because he’ll go out and get drunk and he’ll pass out anywhere. That’s why I wanted him to stay at home that night,” Solomon said.

Issues with drugs and alcohol are something the two have in common. Solomon used to be addicted to cocaine, and said he’s been drug-free for more than a year now.

He says Leslie’s faced a lot of struggles throughout his life. This includes Leslie witnessing the brutal murder of his mother at the hands of her common-law partner in Alberta in the late 1990s, Solomon said.

“I think that has a lot to do with his (Leslie’s) mind and stuff like that,” he said.

Leslie spent time in foster homes in Alberta and they didn’t reconnect until Leslie moved to Prince Albert.

Solomon – who is originally from Mistawasis – said they had not been close, but he’s been heading to a few of Leslie’s court appearances.

“I’m just here to support my son and to be with him because I love him and I miss him dearly,” he said.

In about five months, Leslie will have an expungement hearing. In April he entered a plea for attempted murder. but since then he’s denied the agreed statement of facts that he had signed at the same time of the guilty plea.

Now, with a new lawyer Black will have a hearing to argue for a not guilty plea on aggravated sexual assault and attempted murder.