An Inuvik man was sentenced Thursday on charges of theft and assault after stealing from the Northmart store and then attempting to punch an employee.
On Aug. 22, 2019, the offender went into the Inuvik Northmart and placed several packages of steaks down his pants. He then tried to punch an employee while being escorted out of the store. He was heavily intoxicated at the time.
While the offender didn’t make contact with the employee, even the threat of force constitutes a basic assault.
The man, 57, appeared in Yellowknife court by phone from an assisted-living facility in Edmonton where he has sought treatment for alcoholism. He moved in September to seek treatment.
“I do accept all responsibility of anything I’ve done in my past,” he told the court. “All of my offences were done when I was drinking,” he said. “When I’m sober I am a much better man.”
Territorial Court judge Donovan Molloy accepted the Crown and defence lawyers’ joint sentence recommendation of one day in custody and one year of probation. He commended the offender for recognizing his need for treatment and moving all the way to Edmonton to seek the resources he requires.
“It speaks highly to your commitment of doing better,” Molloy said.
The court heard that the guilty party has a record of 24 previous convictions, several of which include stealing from Northmart.
Molloy noted that the offender had gone six years without run-ins with the law. He said, “I just think it’s a slip and I commend you for your efforts to get back on track.”
Defence lawyer Tú Pham acknowledged that the sentence is lenient, “but reflective of the steps he’s taken.”
Pham also highlighted the Gladue factors at play as the man spent three years in residential school.
Pham told the court that the offender has indicated that his problems stem from seeing his 12-year-old sister accidentally shoot and kill his 11-year-old brother as a kid. Since then he said he has struggled with loneliness and mental health challenges, which has led to drinking.
While on probation, the man is obligated to participate in counselling and treatment. He will be prohibited from contact with the Northmart employee he assaulted and he’s not allowed within 4.6 metres of the Northmart store.
In addressing his alcoholism, he has participated in two 40-day alcoholism programs and has enrolled in online courses on trauma and psychology.
“I want a better life, your honour,” the offender said to Molloy before hearing his sentence. “As best a life as I can have anyways.”