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Six months for drug-driven assault

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services
Published Friday, August 10, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - A Yellowknife man who held his infant daughter hostage and took on two police officers in a drug-crazed brawl was sentenced in territorial court last week.

The 28-year-old man was given a total of six months behind bars after pleading guilty to assault, assaulting a peace officer, unlawfully being in a home and for violating two court orders.

"I believe that you still pose a serious risk to the public," said Chief Judge Brian Bruser during sentencing Aug. 2.

According to agreed-upon facts, the man entered the home of his ex-girlfriend in November, 2006 after a drug "binge." Once inside, he shook the victim while she held their four-month-old daughter. He hit her and threatened her, then demanded to have the baby.

When she acquiesced, he took the child upstairs and the victim called the RCMP.

When police arrived, the man was still upstairs with the child. The two officers at the scene managed to convince him to give up the baby. When police placed him under arrest, he became aggressive, wrestling with officers and attempting to punch one.

"The struggle continued for some time as (the assailant) became more and more violent," said Crown counsel Brendan Gaunt.

After being released on his own recognizance, the man contacted the victim twice while under orders from the court not to.

In his sentencing argument, defence counsel Dan Rideout said his client had done all he could to make up for the incident in November.

He said his client immediately pleaded guilty to the charges, and wrote personal letters of apology to both officers involved in the arrest.

Rideout said his client was under the influence of crack cocaine, alcohol and "20-30 Ativan tablets," during the assault.

Since the incident, Rideout said his client has enlisted in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, had gained full-time employment in construction, and was going back to school. He said the man had given up crack cocaine entirely, though his struggles with prescription drugs were "ongoing."

"He has significant prospects," Rideout said, adding that he and the victim had managed to make amends and were together again.

With this in mind, Rideout asked that provisions be made in the sentence to allow him to contact the victim.

"(The victim) has indicated she wants to communicate with him through a third party," Gaunt said.

The man only nodded in agreement. He had stared at the ceiling and at his hands as the Crown recalled the events that brought him to trial.

Bruser eventually gave the man a total of six months in prison; three months each for the assaults (to be served concurrently), one month (to be served consecutively) for the May breach, and two months for the June breach. With credit for time already served, the man was handed four months in prison. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim, except through a third party.

"If you make one slip, there are several people who are in danger from you, including (the victim)," said Bruser.

"You had an infant in your arms," Bruser said.