MANDEL: Violent home invasion solved by a bandage

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On a fall morning three years ago, a prominent physician was eating breakfast before leaving for work when there was a knock on the door of his north Toronto home.

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Two men in hard hats and construction vests stood on his porch.

Figuring they were doing work in the area for the city, the 69-year-old widower opened the door.

It would be a terrible mistake. Each man grabbed one of his arms as they forced their way inside.

“We want the money,” they demanded while flashing what looked like a gun. “There’s a safe in this house and it has money in it and we want the money.”

The doctor, whose name is protected by a publication ban, didn’t know what they were talking about. He didn’t have a safe. He offered them the cash in his wallet.

Their response was to begin striking him in the head with a hard object.

His pants and underwear were removed and his hands tied. They kicked and hit him, breaking his nose, wrist and a finger, fracturing his ribs and perforating an eardrum.

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He’s pretty sure he was also Tasered in the shoulder.

“I was afraid I might die,” he told Ontario Superior Court. “I was not sure whether I was going to survive this brutal beating and it was absolutely horrendous. Definitely the worst day of my life.”

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When he realized they had finally gone, the badly beaten doctor managed to free himself and, covered in blood, went to a neighbour for help.

Surveillance video from nearby homes showed three “construction workers” — one was the getaway driver — had fled. And all would have escaped justice if not for the bandage Jacob Owusu-Sarpong left behind.

After Toronto Police finished dusting for fingerprints and taking photographs, they left and the doctor’s stepdaughter went upstairs to check if any of her late mother’s jewelry had been stolen. That’s when she noticed the bandage on the carpet of the master bedroom closet.

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She’d obviously seen enough TV to know that it should be placed in a baggie and handed over to investigators. Sure enough, the DNA came back and police now had a suspect.

A search warrant for Owusu-Sarpong’s Jane St. apartment turned up three hard hats — two of them bloodstained with DNA traceable to the doctor — two construction vests, zip ties, a Taser and a loaded handgun.

Owusu-Sarpong, 32, was sentenced this week to 16 years in prison.

“This was a horrific home invasion,” said Justice Jane Kelly. “A 69-year-old man was viciously attacked and sexually assaulted in his own home. He was a vulnerable victim.”

She found that stripping him from the waist down was conduct of a “sexual nature.”

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Owusu-Sarpong had a criminal record that included possession of a restricted firearm as well as assault and had done time in a provincial jail. He admitted being a part of a drug-trafficking enterprise.

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Yet, he was a bit of an enigma — the high school graduate attended York University before dropping out, had worked as a personal trainer and at Medieval Times, and was hired as a mentor in his Jane-Finch community.

He’s written a book while being held at Toronto South Detention Centre and is hoping to get it published.

The judge said she would have considered a harsher sentence of 18 to 19 years but felt he still has the potential of turning his life around.

“I cannot say with certainty that there is no hope for rehabilitation,” Kelly said. “Mr. Owusu-Sarpong, I do wish you good luck in the future.”

With three years credit for pre-sentence custody, the violent home invader has 12 years and nine months remaining to think about how he beat up on a vulnerable senior — and how a bandage was his undoing.

mmandel@postmedia.com

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