Teen gets 2 years for attack

A teen boy who helped savagely beat a 63-year-old youth home worker has been sentenced to two years for aggravated assault.

The youth, who is 16, had been found not guilty of attempted murder last month but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge for the Feb. 4, 2017, attack on Heather Vanderzee at Elk Island Child and Youth Ranch, northeast of Edmonton.

Many of the bones in Vanderzee’s face were shattered and she suffered cuts to her cheek and neck.

She is living with permanent brain injuries and has undergone numerous surgeries, including 92 titanium screws to keep her facial bones in place, and has more surgeries to come.

The judge described the attack as "brutal", but decided not to impose the maximum three year youth sentence.

The judge says he took into account the teen's significant cognitive deficiencies, his aboriginal heritage and his history in the child welfare system.

Court heard Vanderzee was working alone at the time and the teen pretended he wanted a hug before attacking her.

Elk Island Child and Youth Ranch says on its website that it offers an intensive treatment program for children and youth who are covered under Alberta's Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. 

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