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Man guilty of "ultimate form of domestic violence" could be deported

Brendan Burke/NNSL photo.

The following story contains graphic details that some readers may find disturbing.

Tariq St. Croix could be deported after serving a jail sentence for aggravated assault following a brutal attack on his ex wife on New Year's Eve 2018.

St. Croix, originally charged with attempted murder, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated assault in November.

Tariq St. Croix, convicted of aggravated assault for stabbing his former wife, could be deported to St. Lucia following his sentence lawyers say. NNSL file photo

Crown prosecutor Blair McPherson told the court that, considering St. Croix’s violent and repeated criminal record, the Crown had considered applying to have St. Croix designated a dangerous offender

However, the prospects of reaching a plea deal with a dangerous offender application are “essentially nil,” he said, explaining that Crown counsel opted instead to collaborate with the defence in order to spare the victim and witness from testifying at trial. 

On Dec. 31, 2018, St. Croix broke into his estranged wife’s Yellowknife residence.

At the time, St. Croix was on probation from a prior assault in March, 2018 and recognisance from another assault and breached probation in June, in both cases his former partner was the victim. 

Marina St. Croix told the court Thursday that she wants the public to know her name and the events of the incident, denouncing “this environment where we’re supposed to be quiet about this and not say anything.

“I will forgive Tariq,” she said, but as an Indigenous woman of Dene descent, she told the court she wants to break the cycle of violence against Indigenous women dying "at unprecedented rates."

New Year's Eve 2018

On the night of the stabbing, Marina saw Tariq from the balcony of the residence. She told him to leave and immediately called the RCMP. 

Tariq then broke a window, entered the home, armed himself with a steak knife and went upstairs to where Marina and two of her children were huddled in her bedroom. 

Tariq began stabbing his former partner, who was two-months pregnant at the time, and holding her 18 month old child.  

During the attack, Marina handed the baby to her 11-year-old daughter also present for the assault. 

Marina sustained significant injuries to the left side of her chest, her face, left shoulder and stomach. The attack only stopped when the knife broke, the blade lodged in Marina’s stomach. 

Lasting pain and fear

In her victim impact statement, Marina described the lasting emotional, physical, social and financial burden the attack has put on herself and her children. 

Marina gave birth to her youngest in July of that year. She said the labour was extremely painful as she was still recovering from her injuries. 

A Yellowknife woman, who identified herself in court Feb. 11 as Marina St. Croix, told NNSL Media she was lucky to alive after her former partner stabbed her multiple times on New Year's Eve 2018. She crediting the actions of police, paramedics and hospital staff in saving her life. NNSL file photo

Marina described feeling withdrawn and isolated from the community. She said she lives in fear that Tariq will escape custody at the North Slave Correctional Complex (NSCC) and return again to her residence – “as Denecho King did,” she said, adding that “probation orders have proven time and again to not keep us safe.” 

Marina and her children still live in the house where the attack took place. She told the court she continues to sleep in the same room and suffers regular nightmares. 

Marina has had to withdraw from her nursing degree. She lost her scholarship as well as the prospect of future income that she would have earned as a nurse. 

“This crime has left me feeling worthless as Tariq would likely want,” Marina said. “Even though I’ve done nothing wrong, I’m left with feelings of guilt.”  

As a writer, Marina said she knows that the early death of a character doesn’t leave a strong impact on readers because they haven’t gotten the chance to know him or her. “I want the Honourable Justice Charbonneau to know me, in case his early release leads to my murder in the future,” Marina said to presiding Justice Louise Charbonneau. 

Could be deported

MacPherson and defence lawyer Kate Oja, jointly suggested a sentence of five years followed by three years of probation. Among the probationary conditions of regular reporting, counselling and no contact with the victim or her family, the lawyers propose Tariq not be allowed back within NWT borders to protect Marina and her children. 

Both lawyers agreed this was at the extremely low end of the severity spectrum for a crime that MacPherson called “the ultimate form of domestic violence.”

Tariq, originally born in St. Lucia, is a permanent resident in Canada but not a Canadian citizen. Oja told the court that following his sentence, deportation is likely.  

As a protected person, a designation akin to refugee status, Tariq is entitled to a “danger opinion” – an assessment where officials consider the possible risk the offender poses on Canadian soil compared to the risk that might be inflicted on him in the country from which he fled. 

"This is a very serious collateral consequence," Oja said.

A lenient submission

Charbonneau echoed the lawyers’ acknowledgements that the suggested sentence is lenient.

But when lawyers make a joint submission, the law directs judges to accept it in almost all circumstances.

A judge can only reject such a proposed sentence agreement without risking creating the grounds for an appeal if it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute or is otherwise not in the public interest.

One area where Charbonneau noted she has more discretion is in applying the offender’s credit for pre-trial custody. Tariq has been at NSCC since the night of the crime. As of Thursday's proceedings, that is 772 real days served and 1,158 days when the 1.5 credit often granted for pre-trial custody is applied.

That would leave less than two years remaining in Tariq’s sentence. Charbonneau, however, said she is not bound to applying the maximum "1.5" credit.

Reading aloud from a letter, Tariq spoke of his traumatic past and racial slights he’s faced while in custody. He apologized to the victim and told the court that “in recognizing my past I’ve watched myself transform into something I once stood against.

“I became a monster, a monster who would prey on women while children watched,” he said. “I know words along will not take back what I did but please forgive me, as it’s all I can do.”

Charbonneau is expected to deliver her decision Feb. 25.

A Yellowknife woman says she's lucky to alive after her former partner stabbed her multiple times on New Year's Eve. She's crediting the actions of police, paramedics and hospital staff in saving her life.