— Photo by Bonnie Learning/The Labradorian
Andrea Pardy considers herself lucky to be alive after a brutal beating she suffered at the hands of Sem Paul Obed two years ago
The Happy Valley-Goose Bay woman can remember the details of the assault as if it happened yesterday, and those memories are top-of-mind again.
That’s because the man who attacked her that night, on Aug. 16, 2012, is scheduled for unconditional release from prison Sunday.
Two years ago, Pardy was back to work at the Sand Bar, a local lounge, having recently come off maternity leave. She was the manager and was closing up just after midnight on what she thought was just “another boring Wednesday night.”
“I had served my last customer at 12:10 a.m.,” Pardy recalled.
“About a minute and a half later, this man walks in and asks for a beer. I told him we were closed, and he was very good about it. He seemed very friendly and nice.”
Pardy said the man walked back out of the building, only to come back in a minute later and ask to use the washroom.
The man came back out too quickly, Pardy said.
“He approached me and I knew I was in trouble,” she said. “He had a scary look on his face.”
The man — who would later be identified as Sem Obed after a two-week investigation — punched Pardy in the face several times, knocking her to the floor and knocking her face off a cooler.
“He was trying to knock me unconscious,” she said. “He gave me a concussion.”
Pardy said Obed had covered her mouth with his hand as she was screaming.
“So I bit the top of his fingers, and in those few seconds, I was able to knock the glasses off his face and run out of the building.”
Pardy said Obed gave chase, but she never looked back, and ended up flagging down a passing vehicle.
Pardy said all she could think about when Obed was attacking her was that no one knew she was there closing the bar by herself.
“I remember there being a lot of crime going on in that particular time period that summer, including a lot of break-and-enters,” said Pardy. “But those offenders had already been caught. So I felt safe enough (alone). I was way too relaxed and naïve.”
Pardy said her instinct to survive kicked in.
“My only other thought was, how am I going to get out of this alive?”
Obed was eventually caught, charged and sent to prison for assault causing bodily harm and failure to comply with a probation order.
He was sentenced to two years plus a day for the crime.
Obed is scheduled to walk out of Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick on Aug. 31, after serving his entire sentence. There are no conditions on his release.
“He has served his full sentence and therefore, we have no jurisdiction over release,” explained Sylvie Blanchet, regional manager for community relations and training with the Parole Board of Canada.
“Sometime offenders can have long-term supervision orders after their release, but that would have to have been imposed by the court and that wasn’t done in this case.”’
She also noted while most offenders are released after serving just two-thirds of their sentence, Obed was detained to serve his entire sentence when his case came up for review on Aug. 13, 2013, and again on July 8, 2014.
In written decisions provided by the Parole Board of Canada, Obed’s full sentence was carried out for a number of reasons, including his
“indifference towards the victims of your violent offences” and “the fact that some of your violent behaviours could have easily caused serious harm/death.
“The board is of the opinion that your risk to cause serious harm to others and your level of needs would require, at this point, more supervision to offer adequate protection to the public than the supervision programs available in the community,” read the board’s decision.
The decisions also noted Obed’s numerous previous violent offences — for which he had served two prior federal sentences — including sexual assaults, assaults with a weapon and attempted murder.
“File information indicate numerous home invasion incidents,” the decision continued.
“In some occasions, you wore disguises, used weapons … your female victims were attacked and sexually assaulted and on one occasion, police believed you would have killed your victim if neighbours hadn’t intervened. On another occasion, you attacked the residents, a couple … and police believed you had planned to rape and kill the female victim.”
The board also cited several incidents where Obed refused to take part in various programs, including the high intensity sex offender program, leaving his risk factors “unaddressed.”
“The risk for sexual recidivism is assessed as very high, requiring a high level sexual offender program,” stated the decision for detainment.
“In addition, the psychologist recommended intensive psychotherapy and completion of a psychiatric assessment. However, you made it quite clear you were not interested in participating in sexual offender programming.”
Given Obed’s violent background and crimes, Pardy considers herself lucky she got away.
“I’m still in touch with one of his victims from 20 years ago, who says she still has bad dreams about his attack on her,” said Pardy. “She was hurt much worse than I was.”
Pardy said although she is nervous about possibly running into Obed, she feels more afraid for possible future victims.
“While I don’t think he will come back home (to Happy Valley-Goose Bay) and target me personally, I do believe it’s just a matter of time before he finds another person in a vulnerable situation.”
Pardy slowly got her life back together after the attack, easing herself back into work at the Sand Bar after taking a couple of months off and “learning to be alone all over again.”
“But I never work night shifts anymore,” she said.
“(The attack) was a very ugly, very scary thing to go through.”