A Kamloops man won’t spend time behind bars for his “vicious” 2016 attack on a Yellowknife cab driver, a NWT judge ruled during a sentencing hearing last week.
Daniel Mattie, 39, who pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing bodily harm last year, was handed a 15 month conditional sentence by Judge Garth Malakoe in territorial court Friday – avoiding the lengthy jail sentence sought by the Crown.
Outside the courthouse following Mattie’s sentencing, the City Cab driver voiced his disappointment to media.
“You see the justice we live in? We don’t have justice here,” he said.
After leaving Harley’s Hard Rock Saloon in the early hours of Oct. 12, 2016, an intoxicated Mattie was picked up by a City Cab driver. Mattie, sitting in the front passenger seat, asked the driver to take him to a residence in a Kam Lake area neighbourhood.
Upon arriving at the residence, an argument ensued over the fare. The driver, who was 52-years-old at the time, told Mattie he’d drive to RCMP headquarters to settle the dispute.
Unprovoked, Mattie punched the driver several times in the head. The taxi driver exited the cab, but Mattie approached him again. After a struggle, the driver fell to the ground where Mattie struck him again.
Mattie, the court heard through an agreed statement of facts, called the driver – who is dark skinned – a (f-ing) immigrant,” in the “heat of the moment.” Mattie walked to the Kam Lake residence and the victim was able to call police.
The taxi driver, who was admitted to Stanton Territorial Hospital before being transported to Edmonton, suffered significant injuries following the assault. He sustained “massive” swelling to his face – leaving him temporarily “unrecognizable”– and underwent two surgeries for a fractured right orbital bone – an injury that still plagues him to this day.
In a victim impact statement read by Crown prosecutor Angie Paquin, the court heard the driver has double vision in his permanently damaged right eye and experiences headaches and back pain nearly two years after the assault.
Along with enduring physical effects, the attack has left the victim, who can no longer work a full shift, with “lasting emotional and mental scarring.”
“I’m uncomfortable and stressed. Every person is a potential threat,” the driver’s statement read.
Now suffering from anxiety, the cab driver said he’s constantly looking over his shoulder, with fears of another assault preventing him from taking certain passengers and fares – resulting in less earnings.
Emphasizing the need to protect “vulnerable members of society” – cab drivers – Paquin asked for a custodial sentence of 15 months followed by two years probation.
Paquin asked Judge Malakoe to consider violence in Mattie’s past. In 2001, he was convicted of the same charge – assault causing bodily harm – in an incident that also left the victim with “severe injuries.”
Mattie’s lawyer, Jay Bran, noted the “significant gap” in his client’s “dated” criminal record.
Submitting numerous letters of support from Mattie’s family and employers, Bran cast the defendant was a well-liked, productive member of society who is the sole provider for his family.
Mattie’s wife, who wiped away tears as she sat in court Friday, wrote in a letter that jail time for her husband would have “devastating” consequences for their family.
Bran asked Judge Malakoe not send Mattie to jail, instead requesting a conditional sentence with numerous conditions.
Bran said Mattie, who had a positive upbringing with no history of alcohol addiction, doesn’t know what triggered the attack and that he has pursued counseling following the assault.
Paquin said Mattie’s inability to pinpoint what caused the act of violence leaves a “huge question mark.”
In reading his decision – which he called “difficult”– Judge Malakoe acknowledged the lingering questions regarding Mattie’s “brutal and vicious” act of violence, but said a conditional sentence, in this case, would be sufficient in denouncing and deterring similar crimes.
Turning to the victim, who sat in court, a red-faced Mattie fought back tears as he apologized.
While Mattie won’t spend time in jail, he’ll be under house arrest for the first 12 months of his sentence – which he will serve in B.C. – but will be allowed to leave his residence to work. For the remaining three months of his conditional sentence, Mattie will be subject to a curfew that requires him to be at home from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Following his sentence, Mattie will be on probation for 18 months and will face numerous strict conditions. He cannot drink alcohol and is banned from possessing firearms for three years.