The sentencing hearing for a 21-year-old man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a Lethbridge woman began with a statement from the victim herself.

Denzel Dre Colton Bird, 21, pleaded guilty to attacking a woman as she was walking to work in September 2016.

She was struck with a metal pipe, dragged into an alley and then sexually assaulted.

The victim was found partially naked inside a garbage can and was taken to hospital where she spent two weeks in a medically-induced coma.

The blows caused multiple skull fractures and fractured her facial bones as well. She also lost a front tooth and had a number of her other teeth chipped or broken.

She was released from hospital a year ago and her family says she is continuing to recover but has no memory of the attack.

During the statement read into court by her cousin, the victim spoke about the injuries that have forever changed her life.

"It has been over a year since Bird attacked me. Memories of the attack still haunt me. The actions of Bird deeply impacted and changed my life."

The victim said she spent four months in hospital recovering from the injuries.

"I was in a medically induced coma for about a month to help reduce the swelling on my brain. I had to relearn how to do everything again. I was paralyzed on one side and went from a wheelchair to a walker to now nothing."

Once the woman was out of hospital, her ordeal wasn't over because she had to go through three months of physical, speech and occupational therapy to regain her normal functions.

"I have also had a lot of dental work done since this happened. It has meant replacing my front teeth with a partial denture to fill in my missing tooth while I am waiting to have the implant done."

The statement went further to say that she still hasn't returned to normal after the attack and still has lots of therapy ahead of her.

"I used to be very active. Now I struggle to do the same things I used to be able to. So far, I am not the same person that I was before this happened."

The attack has also taken a mental toll on her as well, changing her from the positive person that she was.

"Now I have scars that remind me of how strongly I fought him. I won't give the accused that pleasure. He hasn't taken away my will to live; he hasn't broken my spirit."

Bird was originally charged with attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated assault and break and enter in the incident.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault and break and enter.

Bird also addressed the court on Wednesday, saying that he was sorry for what happened and prays for forgiveness.

“I think about what I did and I get sick. I hurt a woman and broke her soul. She will always be scared,” he said.“I can’t imagine what I’ve put her, her husband and family through. I pray each and every night for forgiveness and to have that woman heal.”

A sentence was supposed to be delivered in the case in early January but it was delayed because Bird’s lawyer said his client was still on a waiting list for a forensic psychiatric assessment and a Gladue Principle report.

Bird’s lawyer is requesting a sentence between six and eight years and the Crown is asking for a sentence of 20 years.

The maximum sentence for aggravated sexual assault is life in prison.

Justice Jerry LeGrandeur reserved his decision in the case and will set a date for sentencing on April 20.

(With files from the Canadian Press)