Justice Louise Charbonneau compared the scene of a Behchoko assault to a horror movie in delivering her decision on Mandy Goulet’s sentence Wednesday in the NWT Supreme Court.
Goulet, 24, was sentenced to three years imprisonment on three charges including attempted obstruction of justice, assaulting a peace officer, and aggravated assault based on a stabbing which took place in January 2019.
Charbonneau told the court that in the images entered as exhibits, the gash to the victim’s forearm was so deep that bone was visible. Even after surgery to repair her forearm’s nerve and tendon damage, the court heard that the victim was still not able to form a fist six months after the injury and it is unclear whether or not they will ever fully recover.
The victim needed 48 stitches after Goulet’s assault.
“It is not difficult to imagine that this must have been an absolutely terrifying experience,” the judge said.
Goulet was convicted of attempting to obstruct justice because she tried to convince the victim not to testify.
Goulet’s charge on assaulting a peace officer is unrelated, though all three were wrapped up in Wednesday’s sentencing. In February 2020, while in custody at the Fort Smith correctional facility, an officer was escorting Goulet from one side of the facility to the other when she punched him repeatedly in the face.
In a pre-sentence report (PSR), Goulet said that she “doesn’t know where (her) anger comes from.”
The court heard that Goulet comes from a “supportive family,” and had a “good upbringing.”
In delivering her sentence, Charbonneau acknowledged Goulet’s Indigenous background, adding that as her personal circumstances are positive, Gladue factors are not as significant in reducing moral blameworthiness.
Charbonneau called Goulet’s “frenzied anger,” “out of control,” and “frankly frightening.”
“It is a matter of pure luck (Goulet) didn’t hit a vital organ and cause death.”
Many similar cases of impaired disputes turning violent appear before the court and end in homicide, she said, including a case of manslaughter that appeared in the same courtroom earlier this week.
In the defence’s submissions, lawyer Jay Bran recommended Goulet be released on the 528 days she has already served in custody. Charbonneau said “time served would not reflect the severity of these offences.”
“What (Goulet) showed herself capable of doing is very scary,” Charbonneau said. “If this is what happens when she snaps, next time she could kill someone.”
For aggravated assault, Charbonneau sentenced Goulet to three years in prison. For attempted obstruction of justice, nine months, and for assaulting a peace officer, three months. The terms are to be served concurrently. Otherwise, Charbonneau said, the sentence would be “potentially crushing” at 48 years in total.
With the applied credit of Goulet’s time served, she has 10 months left in custody, followed by two years on probation.
A sentence Charbonneau called “very restrained,” noting the 14 year maximum for charges of aggravated assault.
Charbonneau told Goulet it is in her best interest, and the best interest of those around her, that she “understand what triggers her anger,” and learn to “get it under control.”
“I wish you the best for the future,” Charbonneau said to Goulet. “I hope you’ll never have to be in a courtroom again.”