A Kamloops man who repeatedly raped his niece over a period of years has been ordered to spend 3.5 years in federal prison.
On Friday, 72-year-old Nihal Maligaspe was handcuffed and led out of a courtroom by a sheriff after B.C. Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper delivered her sentence.
Last May, a jury found Maligaspe guilty on two of three counts of sexual assault related to several incidents involving his niece, Dinushini Maligaspe, who he helped emigrate to Canada from Sri Lanka in 2001.
Complainants in sexual assault cases typically cannot be named because their identities are protected by court-ordered publication bans. In this case, Dinushini applied successfully ahead of the trial to have the ban lifted.
Crown prosecutor Katie Bouchard sought an eight-year sentence. She argued not only did Dinushini not give consent, Maligaspe had abused a position of trust, power and authority over her as she lived in his home for a period of years and he paid for her international student tuition and other expenses. At one point, he became her college instructor.
Defence lawyer Jay Michi asked Gropper to consider a sentence of two years less a day in prison plus probation, noting Maligaspe had no criminal record, a strong record of employment and, as per a psychologist’s report, was a low risk to reoffend.
Gropper said she accepted Maligaspe is “at a very low risk to reoffend,” noting the man is decades older than he was when the sexual offences took place.
However, the judge agreed Maligaspe “repeatedly abused his position of trust and authority,” adding while Dinushini wasn’t a child, she was still in a vulnerable position.
“For all the years that the complainant resided in the offender's home where several of the sexual assaults took place, the complainant had to contend with the fear that she might be assaulted by the offender at any time,” Gropper said.
“Her home was not a peaceful sanctuary from the time the sexual assaults began until she moved out.”
In addition to serving a 3.5-year prison sentence, Maligaspe will have to register as a sex offender for 20 years and must submit samples of his DNA to a national criminal database.
He will be prohibited from contacting Dinushini for the duration of his incarceration, and will be subject to a firearms prohibition.