A Crown prosecutor is calling for a six-year prison sentence for a man convicted of sexually and physically assaulting his former common-law partner.
In June, a jury found the 40-year-old man, who isn’t being named to protect the identity of the victim, guilty on two counts of sexual assault, one count of assault and one count of uttering threats.
Over a four-year span, the man committed a string of assaults against his ex-partner. The jury found he had sexually assaulted the victim in Yellowknife in 2012, when the two were in a casual relationship. Two years later, when the man and woman were in a common-law union, he sexually assaulted her again. The jury also found him guilty of assaulting and threatening the woman during an incident in 2016.
During sentencing submissions in Supreme Court on Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Jay Potter recommended Justice Shannon Smallwood hand down a three-year sentence for the 2012 sexual assault, a four-year sentence for the second sexual assault, and six months for the convictions of assault and uttering threats.
The sentences Potter is calling for would add up to 7.5 years, but he’s asking the court to adjust downward to consider the “totality” of the case.
The man, who has been in custody since mid-June, sighed as Potter arrived at the six-year recommendation. Behind him sat a handful of supporters. One quickly scribbled down a letter of support before court began, adding to a “bundle” of positive messages handed to Smallwood by the man’s lawyer, Charles Davison.
Potter acknowledged the support from relatives, community members and past employers, but stressed their backing should be taken with a grain of salt.
He said domestic violence often happens out of sight and behind closed doors, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the convictions are “inconsistent with the person they know.”
Two victim impact statements, written by the man’s ex-partner, were read in court. In the second statement, made recently, she said she found the legal process difficult and wanted it over for both her and the offender.
Potter said she doesn’t want the man to be incarcerated at all. He said that doesn’t take away from the public and societal importance of the case.
“Rates of domestic violence in the territory are astoundingly high,” said Potter.
Davison, the man’s lawyer, didn’t take exception to Potter’s sentencing breakdown, but said the court must come to a decision that avoids “imposing an unduly and crushing sentence,” on his client.
Davison told the court the man endured abuse within the residential school system. He said the man was a “victim and, in some sense, a product of the violence,” that befell him as a child. “The court cannot lose sight of that,” said Davison.
Davison called for a four-year sentence, saying the “significant” term would still send a message.
Smallwood will hand down a sentence on Monday.