Marlene Bird leaves court after Leslie Black was sentenced on Sept. 22, 2017. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski.

A sentence has been handed down in Prince Albert for Leslie Black in the attempted murder of Marlene Bird, who Black beat, set on fire, and left for dead in the summer of 2014.

Sixteen years is what Judge Stanley Loewen decided Black will serve for his attack on Bird, which came after the two had been drinking together overnight in an a downtown Prince Albert alley near the Margo Fournier Centre. They had gotten into an argument after the two started having what had seemed to Black to be consensual sex. Bird passed out during and when she came to, said she would charge Black with rape and he quickly became enraged. Bird fought early on in the court case to have a publication ban on her name lifted. Loewen made his final decision in Prince Albert Provincial Court on Friday, noting that Black will receive more than four years credit for time served.

Due to the brutal beating and burning – which Black earlier pleaded guilty to – Bird now has amputated legs, is wheelchair-bound and has lifelong injuries. Court heard that in March when Black addressed the court and read out a letter he had written apologizing to Bird, she had not been present, and therefore had never heard Black speak in court at all. At the request of the Crown and Bird, Black then read an abridged version of that letter which contained an apology, mention of hoping for – but not expecting – forgiveness, and acknowledgement of what he did.

Outside court, Bird told reporters she hopes he means it.

“I liked that apology. He didn’t mean to, he said. He’d take it back,” Bird said. She looked Black in the eye while he stood and read the letter, which she said “was painful.”

It was an emotional morning for Bird, but she said she is satisfied with the 16-year sentence Black received. As she moves on with her life, Bird said she has prosthetic legs waiting for her in Saskatoon. Bird said counselling will be her next step in healing, because her mother told her to forgive people who do wrong.

The counselling is meant to deal with anger “so I can forgive because I need help with that. I never met a person like that in my life until I met him.”

Bird was present in court throughout sentencing arguments, where defence lawyer Brent Little asked for 14 years and Crown prosecutor Jeff Lubyk cited other attempted murder cases in which offenders received between 16 years and the maximum sentence of 20 years.

Either way, the sentence would be accompanied by a 10-year long term supervision order once Black is released. The order applies to people who have been labeled long-term offenders, which is a step down from a dangerous offender designation. Earlier this year, the Crown failed having Black labeled a dangerous offender.

Black will serve his penitentiary sentence outside the praire region due to safety concerns.