Prosecutors are recommending a one-and-half year jail sentence for a Yellowknife man who left a male victim with life-changing injuries after striking him in the head with a cooking appliance two years ago.
Daniel Hache, 23, pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm in December.
On June 20, 2017, after working on an island on Prelude Lake, Hache and another man began drinking at a campsite.
The other man’s partner and children were there, too.
The victim went to sleep, while Hache and the victim’s partner stayed up. Hache then travelled on a personal watercraft to pick up another woman at a dock near the campsite.
His watercraft partially sank en route, and he called the victim’s partner to retrieve him.
She did, but once they arrived back at the camp, the two began arguing about how long it took for her to help him, which awoke the victim.
The victim, according to an agreed statement of facts, physically confronted his partner, telling her to stop yelling.
According to the agreed upon facts, Hache saw the man strike the woman.
Hache was yelling at the victim to stop being physical with her, when the victim approached Hache with his arms raised.
Hache picked up a nearby pie iron – a cast iron appliance commonly used to cook over a campfire – and struck the victim in the head. The victim fell and hit his head on either a fireplace structure or a rock.
Following the assault, Hache called Yellowknife RCMP for medical assistance. He spoke with an operator nine times while attempting to bandage the victim’s head wound.
The victim sustained serious injuries. He suffered a depressed skull fracture – leaving a hole in his skull.
In NWT Supreme Court on Thursday, prosecutor Morgan Fane offered an update on the victim’s current condition. The victim, who is required to wear a specialized hat affixed with a piece of plastic to cover the hole in his skull, suffers from seizures. The right side of his body remains numb.
In the months that followed the assault, the man could only verbalize two to three words at a time. The victim, who was forced to leave work and move back to Ontario, is unable to seek employment. He now relies on a pension to support his young family.
Fane said there’s nothing the criminal justice system can do to make the victim “whole” again, but said Hache must be held accountable for his actions.
The victim’s serious head injury left him “fundamentally altered and changed,” said Fane, who said the “grave offence,” led to devastating consequences for the victim and his family.
In a victim impact statement written by the victim, who listened to the court proceedings over the phone, the man wrote he now feels unsafe and even paranoid following the assault. He now feels like a stranger around people he knows.
“I don’t know who to trust,” stated the victim.
His children, embarrassed by the way he now speaks, told him not to come to their school.
“That crushed my heart,” he wrote.
“Miraculously,” said Fane, the victim has made significant strides in regaining his ability to speak. He’s now able to speak coherently.
The victim’s sister travelled to Yellowknife to read her brother’s victim impact statement, along with a letter she wrote herself.
When she arrived at an Edmonton hospital to visit her brother, she told the court the two locked eyes. “We both knew life had changed forever,” she said.
Hache’s lawyer, Thomas Boyd, recommended a conditional sentence for his client, who he called a “youthful, first-time offender,” asking the court to consider whether custody was necessary.
He said a conditional sentence would better serve the community because Hache would be given the opportunity to pay his debt to society while heading down a “positive and productive path.”
While there are mitigating factors at play, including Hache’s clear remorse, Fane said a conditional sentence would not be appropriate given the circumstances of the offence.
By picking up the pie iron, Hache used “devastating force” which “led to a foreseeable, tragic injury,” said Fane.
With the Crown and defence “quite a distance apart,” on sentencing recommendations, NWT Supreme Court Justice Louise Charbonneau reserved her decision.
She’s expected to make a decision on July 30.