Terror in the stairwell

His defence was that the sex was consensual.

Two strangers met him on the street and agreed to have sex with him in a dirty stairwell just moments later, he claimed.

From Mississauga, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 16.

His adult criminal record began in 2007 with a sexual assault conviction. A year later it was assault with a weapon and breach of probation.

In 2010, he was convicted of uttering threats. In 2014, sexual assault and uttering threats.

The year after, he was convicted of sexual interference, a charge pertaining to the touching of people under the age of 16 for a sexual purpose.

Sometimes, like during his trial in January, Cyrus, 32, can be articulate, polite and soft-spoken.

He chose to be sworn in on the Qur’an. His Facebook page names him as “Adriel X” and he calls himself a “foot soldier at Nation of Islam.”

“I am striving to be upright to him who originated the heavens and the earth,” his page says, “and I am an active member who is mastering being a well-made man and not just a male.”

He describes himself as a “professional telemarketer.”

Under the heading “Interested In” he lists one thing: Women.

At a more recent court appearance, Cyrus was agitated and loud. He muttered to himself then flapped his arms and shouted “I’m getting pissed off,” from the prisoner’s box.

The swing in his behaviour and mental state is extreme.

His physical presence is a constant, though. Cyrus prides himself on his muscular body.

He easily overpowered his victims.

.The parking garage where the sex assaults occured. | Gary Yokoyama, The Hamilton Spectator

AB weeps the moment she takes the witness stand and struggles to pull herself together.

“I got this,” she says.

Her evidence of what happened Sunday, June 12, 2016, unravels slowly.

“I wanted drugs,” she begins. “Heroin.”

Her usual dealer was in Toronto, but AB’s car broke down, so she went to Jackson Square in search of a fix. She honed in on the stairs just west of the main doors at King and James. It was late afternoon and she was desperate.

“I wasn’t feeling well because I was coming off, so I wanted to get more.”

She asked a stranger if he had heroin. He said he did and she told him she wanted to buy $200 worth. She had cash.

He told her the drugs were in a car in a nearby parking garage. He would take her.

He was a black man, maybe five-foot-10, short hair, no accent. He wore a grey hoodie with the hood up.

“We walked down King Street. We walked past The Works … then we crossed.”

As they walked, they smoked a joint the man had.

He told AB, now 30, she was “too young and pretty to be on heroin.”

They entered Summers Lane, the short street running from Main to King between FirstOntario Concert Hall and the Convention Centre and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Just behind the AGH there is a brown, heavy door. It leads to concrete stairs heading down, three floors. At the bottom is a landing and a door with a small window. It opens to a parking garage.

Cyrus tells court a friend introduced him to that stairwell. They drank beer there.

“Ever since then,” he says, “whenever I wanted to smoke weed or drink or whatever, privately, I’d go there.”

AB says it was a “secluded place.” She saw no cars. No people. Perfect for buying drugs.

“We stayed in that stairwell,” she says. “It wasn’t all that big.”

She stood against the wall. The man sat on the stairs. He asked AB if she would have sex with him. Her answer was clear.

“No.”

She moved toward the door. He stood.

“It doesn’t matter,” AB recalls him saying in a low voice. “I’m gonna get it anyways.”

“He pushed my shoulders against the wall. My head hit the wall. He kind of brought me down to the floor … At first I tried (to fight him off) and then at a certain point, I just gave up. I don’t know if ‘accepted’ is the right word, but I was just trying to get through it. I knew it was going to happen. He had my arms and I didn’t get away. I couldn’t get away.”

She didn’t scream. It seemed pointless.

He kissed her face and neck while he raped her.

Cyrus tells it differently from the witness stand.

“I can’t remember if I motioned for her to come over to me or if I guided her by her hand, but she came and she sat on my lap. And while she was sitting on my lap I was rubbing her thighs and kind of exploring her, and she did not … say she wanted me to stop or anything like that.”

Cyrus testifies he told AB he was on Clopixol, an anti-psychotic medication that gave him long-lasting erections that became painful if he didn’t have intercourse. (The Crown later pointed out Clopixol actually reduces libido.) Cyrus says he asked if AB would have sex with him to alleviate his problem.

“She said yes. She said she could help me with the problem I was having and she was willing to have sex with me.”

“We had a chemistry with each other,” he adds.

AB says when Cyrus finished raping her he pulled his pants up and left out the door into the parking lot.

She lay there a moment before getting up, dressing and ascending the stairs to Summers Lane.

“I walked home,” she tells court.

For the next few hours, she spun. She used all the cocaine in the house. It was a lot.

“I just laid in bed. I was angry. I just wanted to not feel sad.”

Police picked her up later, screaming at a construction site. Officers took her to hospital for treatment and a rape kit.

“It was humiliating,” AB says. “Painful. Scary.”

.Adriel Cyrus was convicted of luring two women into a downtown parking garage and raping them. The Crown is seeking to have him designated a dangerous offender.| Facebook

SD hoped to make a new friend.

She finished her shift at a downtown telemarketing company and waited for a bus at the corner of James and Main. It was around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016.

SD, now 22, was sitting on the curb chatting on the phone with her mom when a man she didn’t know asked for a cigarette.

She gave him one and he sat beside her. They began to talk.

She told him about her job and they discussed sports.

“He went by A.J.,” she testifies.

“I told him I got off work early and I would love to go home and smoke a spliff because I have got my (medical marijuana) licence. And then he told me he already had a joint rolled up and he had weed and he knew a good place to go and smoke.”

SD had just moved to Hamilton and didn’t know many people. She decided to go with A.J.

“I saw it, hopefully, as an opportunity to find someone as a friend or just a cool person to hang out with,” she tells the court.

“He told me that he knew of this spot and it was Summers Lane and it’s right past the art gallery and it’s an underground parking garage.”

He took her there. Brown door. Flight of stairs descending. At the bottom, a landing and a door. Her phone didn’t work there.

“It was very dirty. Very claustrophobic. There was a small window on the door, but nobody came.”

It was perfect for smoking weed, she thought.

He sat on the stairs. She took a seat to his right. He rolled a joint and they shared it. They talked about music, then each had a cigarette.

“He flicked his off the wall. I flicked mine off the wall. Both of our cigarettes ricocheted off the wall and that’s when, all of a sudden, I got this weird type of glance. A very, very disturbing one. Like something was going to happen. But I didn’t know what to do. And then all of a sudden, with his left hand he touched my boob.”

She pushed his hand away and said “No.”

“That’s when he tossed me over and rolled me over onto the ground … He was on top of me … I had no way to move.”

Several times she describes, with obvious revulsion, how his cheek was pressed against hers. She struggled hard when he tried to kiss her mouth.

SD says A.J. took off her shirt, pulled up her bra, removed her shoes, pants and underwear.

“He was butt naked except for his socks.”

He raped her.

Cyrus’s testimony differs.

He admits leading her to the same stairwell where he took AB.

“While we were walking there she was telling me … ‘I like the way you train so hard’ and I was, like, ‘OK, thanks.’ Then she also said she wanted me to come to her home … While we were walking, as well, I asked her if she wanted to have sex, and she said yes.”

Cyrus says at the bottom of the stairwell he told SD: “‘I prefer to have sex first and then we can smoke weed.’ And she agreed with me … She pulled down her pants … When I ejaculated we stopped. We went back to the stairs, sat down, were talking and, um, I rolled up some weed … I told her that I was hungry and that I was going to go buy a burrito, a beef burrito from 7-Eleven.”

He says SD asked if he would “be her guy.”

“That was the language she used and I said ‘Sure.’ And I asked her if she would be my girl and she said ‘Sure.'”

SD says Cyrus told her to leave the stairwell first. She scrambled into her clothes. Back on the street she walked briskly. But A.J. caught up to her.

“He came right behind me and tried to kiss me. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. He told me not to say anything and he grabbed my ass … He told me he was already on probation … He was recently in Barton jail.”

If she told anyone about the rape, “he’d come kill me,” she recalls him saying.

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Cyrus has seven siblings, some share a father, others don’t.

His parents divorced when he was about eight and he lived with his mom, who didn’t have much.

“Things that I wanted, I didn’t really have,” he tells court. “I had to get it myself in ways I’m not proud of now.”

Cyrus did not finish high school and his mom kicked him out of the house. He was homeless for a bit. He moved to Hamilton with his mom five years ago.

It is common for Cyrus to ask random women for sex and for them to agree, he testifies.

“It’s nothing new to me. I don’t know, I guess for some individuals that doesn’t really happen, but for me there’s been multiple occasions when I meet a female and on the same day we have intercourse consensually.”

• • •

Justice Leitch decided neither woman consented to sex with Cyrus and found him guilty of sexual assault on AB, sexual assault on SD and uttering a death threat to SD.

Leitch points to a number of “significant similarities” between the rapes.

In his reasons for believing the women, Leitch writes: “The improbability of coincidence is strong. I find it highly unlikely that two women unknown to one another would both consent to sex with the accused, within minutes of first meeting him, on a dirty concrete floor outside a parking garage where they could be discovered in the act at any moment.”

Hamilton’s dangerous offenders

James Collier, Designated 1985,Age 52

He became Hamilton’s first DO after sexually assaulting four girls. His 30-year criminal record included convictions for three indecent assaults, committing an indecent act, rape and attempted rape.

• • •

Unnamed man, Designated 1996,Age 45

A bouncer with a 28-year criminal record and seven convictions for sexual assault. A publication ban was ordered on his name to protect the identity of his victims — including his wife and daughters.

• • •

Wayne Walker, Designated 1997, Age 40

Walker was raised in an abusive family and sent to live in a provincial facility at age 12. At 30 he was de-institutionalized by the province and moved to Hamilton.

He lured a six-year-old girl after Sunday service at Binkley United Church but was intercepted while walking her away.

He had three prior convictions for sexually assaulting children.

• • •

Terence Doyle, Designated 1998, Age 48

A Satan’s Choice member with a criminal record spanning 24 years, he had 22 convictions including weapons offences, assaults and attempted murder. He inflicted terror on three ex-wives including stabbing one in the chest as she called 911.

• • •

James Sipos, Designated 1998,Age 39

Convicted of assaulting or sexually assaulting nine women, six of them strangers.

In one incident he sexually assaulted a teenager, tied her to a tree and talked about killing her and burning her body. In another, he forced a woman’s car off the road before punching, choking and raping her.

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David Maracle, Designated 1999, Age 34

Convicted of the gunpoint kidnapping and rapes of a 14-year-old Brantford girl, Maracle was declared a DO.

He successfully appealed his conviction and his DO designation and was granted a new trial. On the first day of jury selection, Maracle instead admitted his attack on the Brantford girl and pleaded guilty.

The Crown once again sought a DO designation. However this time the judge decided against it, finding Maracle a long-term offender instead with 10 years probation after release.

• • •

Daryll Skedden, Designated 2001,Age 38

He raped a 16-year-old babysitter and had 37 other convictions for stalking and sexually assaulting women.

His crimes included: Dragging a woman into bushes, biting her and beating her as she screamed; assaulting his girlfriend; making obscene and threatening phone calls to a woman he picked out of the phone book; stalking a woman he didn’t know and leaving sexually explicit notes on her windshield. He assaulted one woman six days after completing a treatment program for sex offenders.

Skedden’s father was a convicted rapist who died in prison. His mother was a sex worker and alcoholic.

His stepfather and mother were convicted of attempted murder after the stepfather shot Skedden’s 13-year-old brother. The couple tried to remove the bullet with tweezers.

• • •

Bernard King, Designated July 2005,Age 51

Once, a woman awoke in her own bed after a party to find King, naked, on top of her. He punched her in the mouth.

Another time, King followed a 17-year-old girl off a Toronto bus, threw her to the ground and kicked her so hard in the face she needed reconstructive surgery.

Another Toronto teen who rejected King’s advances was followed into a bathroom, punched in the face, burned with a cigarette and choked until she lost consciousness. King then defecated on her.

He also followed a woman into the subway, beat her into unconsciousness then sexually assaulted her.

In Hamilton, he attacked a woman getting into her car near Jackson Square. He punched her in the face and ordered her to “Get over and open your legs.”

King spent a total of 18 months out of custody between ages 16 and 51.

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Michael Gardner, Designated 2006, Age 29

He left the now closed federal half-way house on York Boulevard, walked across the street to Jackson Square and stabbed a shop manager 22 times. She survived.

Gardiner intended to rape her, but was turned off by all the blood.

Gardiner was first admitted to a mental hospital at age seven because of his desire to hurt other children.

He racked up 41 criminal convictions, including sexually assaulting a woman with a mental disability and threatening to kill a justice of the peace.

• • •

Gregory Finck, Designated 2007, Age 35

A child rapist who propositioned an 11-year-old Hamilton girl on her way home from school. The girl’s father and uncle chased Finck and held him for police.

Finck was in and out of prison most of his adult life. He sexually assaulted a three-year-old girl he abducted near her home in New Brunswick.

• • •

Gerald Dyke, Designated 2011, Age 40

He spent much of his adult life behind bars for domestic violence, having severely beaten each of his five girlfriends.

He broke one girlfriend’s nose and orbital bones, then forced her to perform oral sex on him.

He was living at a Hamilton half-way house when he beat the woman he lived with on weekends.

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Michell Erstikaitis, Designated 2011, Age 31

She asked to be declared a DO.

As a teenager growing up in Hamilton, Erstikaitis was obsessed with serial killer Paul Bernardo. Her goals were: To marry Bernardo; become a famous killer; become a DO (like Bernardo).

She left messages on the answering machine of Debbie Mahaffy, pretending to be her daughter Leslie who was raped and killed by Bernardo.

She poured gas throughout her Hamilton apartment and lit it. First responders broke down the door to rescue her.

At 22 she was designated a long-term offender and supervised for six years after her release from prison.

While on that supervision she slashed her boyfriend with scissors.

She was declared a DO (by a Toronto judge), but was soon released and placed on a 10-year supervision order.

This summer, Erstikaitis was convicted of slashing the throat of a guard at the U.S. Consular Office in Toronto.

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Johnson Aziga, Designated 2011, Age 55

The first person in Canada convicted of murder for failing to disclose his HIV status to sexual partners.

He infected two women who died, infected five others and caused paralyzing psychological damage to four more partners.

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John Greene, Designated 2015, Age 30

He beat, sexually assaulted and tried to kill a seven-year-old Hamilton girl he abducted from an apartment hallway.

Thinking he had choked the child to death, he was washing her body with bleach when his girlfriend arrived and called 911.

Greene had 65 criminal convictions, 30 involving violence.

Compiled by Susan Clairmont, The Hamilton Spectator