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Editor’s note: This story contains disturbing details. 

An NWT  man convicted of two counts of assault against his partner, who in one instance was holding their baby, was given 12 months of probation and a suspended sentence on Aug. 4.  

An NWT man convicted of assault against his partner received a suspended sentence Tuesday in Yellowknife Territorial Court.
Natalie Pressman/NNSL photo

During the first assault, on Feb. 29, the man’s partner was pregnant with their child, Crown prosecutor Blair MacPherson told NWT Territorial Court in Yellowknife. The woman got up from bed and tripped over some cords on the floor of the bedroom. When her stumble caused the television and a computer to fall over, the offender became angry, grabbed her by her suspenders and pushed her into a wall. 

He then told her, “If you love me you won’t charge me,” the court heard. 

In May, while the man was still under court orders to not have contact with his spouse on account of the first incident, he went to her home. 

She answered the door and realized that he was intoxicated only after letting him inside the house.

Holding their two-week-old baby, she told him that she was going to call the police. He became violent. He grabbed her, pushed her into the wall and threw her on the floor repeatedly. 

Throughout the altercation, the mother tried to maneuver her body to protect the baby.

While he assaulted her, the man told his spouse that the child was a mistake. He said if she called the police he would kill himself. 

The offender confirmed to the court that these were the facts.

On a joint submission between the lawyers, Judge Donovan Molloy accepted the recommendation of a suspended sentence and 12-months probation. 

In his year of probation, the offender is instructed to seek counselling, complete 30 hours of community service and he will not be permitted contact with his spouse or their child. 

The maximum sentence for an assault conviction is five years. 

The suspended sentence puts final sentencing on hold while the convicted man completes his probation. If he doesn’t comply with the conditions of probation, he may be re-sentenced for the original charges, as well as for any breaches of probation. 

The joint submission by the lawyers was made in light of the fact that this is the offender’s “first conviction for acts of violence and he has nothing related to violence on his record,” MacPherson said. 

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Natalie Pressman

Natalie is a graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program. She has since held contracts working with an NGO in Vietnam and with Journalists for Human Rights in Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent...

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  1. An NWT man convicted of two counts of assault against his partner, who in one instance was holding their baby, was given 12 months of probation and a suspended sentence on Aug. 4!! The Crown hooked up with the defence lawyer to make it a joint submission so they were both on the same page and the judge accepted the deal.

    I rarely castigate defence lawyers for getting the best deal for their clients – that’s their job. However, the Crown is tasked with representing the interests of the public and in this case he failed miserably. The Crown isn’t required to consider the victims’ interests because they are relegated to the position of witness and nothing else. I don’t like it but I get it.

    The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to instil a respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:
    – To denounce unlawful conduct
    – To deter the offender and other persons from committing offences
    – To separate offenders from society, where necessary
    – To assist in rehabilitating offenders
    – To provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community
    – To promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims and to the community

    This slap on the wrist ignores the risk this woman and her child faces and is counter to each of these objectives.

    During the first assault the man’s partner was pregnant with their child. Why did he assault her? She tripped over some cords causing a television and a computer to fall over. Then he told her, “If you love me you won’t charge me.” Fortunately the woman charged him anyway.

    Three months later, while the man was still under court orders to not have contact with his spouse, he went to her home intoxicated. Holding their two-week-old baby, she told him that she was going to call the police. He became violent. He grabbed her, pushed her into the wall and threw her on the floor repeatedly. Throughout the altercation, the mother tried to maneuver her body to protect the baby.While he assaulted her, the man told his spouse that the child was a mistake. He said if she called the police he would kill himself.

    The Crown and Judge bought the argument that the sentence was just because it was his first conviction. While that is true, signs would indicate it wasn’t his first assault. Rage toward a pregnant woman and his partner for stumbling is a huge red flag. Ignoring the court order not to contact his partner demonstrates a deep seated belief that he will do what he wants to do regardless of who tries to stop him. Attacking the woman while she held their child and then repeatedly throwing her to the floor in front of the child tells me this is a dangerous man. If that woman and child die at his hands it is on the courts!!

    In his year of probation, the offender is instructed to seek counselling (what counselling?), complete 30 hours of community service (what does that have to do with anything) and he will not be permitted contact with his spouse or their child (he ignored the first court order).

    The maximum sentence for an assault conviction is five years. The suspended sentence puts final sentencing on hold while the convicted man completes his probation. If he doesn’t comply with the conditions of probation, he may be re-sentenced for the original charges, as well as for any breaches of probation… all things that might keep him in check. However, his partner and child’s life hangs in the balance.