Man who broke stranger’s jaw avoids penitentiary time

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Offender wanted to serve time at federal prison down south instead of correctional centre

A 34-year-old who beat a man so badly in the back of a cab that he had to be medevaced to Edmonton for jaw surgery was sentenced Monday to just under two years in jail for that and two other crimes.

Lyle Emile was sentenced to 23 and a half months in jail for two counts of assault causing bodily harm and one count of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

Emile pleaded guilty to one assault causing bodily harm and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking on May 1 in NWT Supreme Court.

An agreed statement of facts read in court May 1 painted a traumatic picture of the cab beating, which happened after 8 a.m. on Dec. 19, 2015.

Emile was sharing a ride from a party in a minivan cab with a man and woman when Emile began punching the man after a conversation about where Emile wanted to be dropped off.

The assault knocked the stranger over, wedging him between his seat and the door of the minivan.

Emile punched the victim repeatedly, shattering his jaw before eventually fleeing the scene.

The victim was later medevaced to Edmonton where he had titanium plates inserted in his jaw and had it wired shut as a result of the assault, court heard.

The other assault was an unprovoked bar fight on Aug. 30, 2015, in which Emile broke a stranger’s nose.

Court records show he was previously found guilty by a judge for assault causing bodily harm for this incident.

The drug charge stems from an attempt to smuggle 20 grams of cocaine on a North-Wright Airways flight to Tulita on Dec. 28, 2016. An employee grew suspicious and opened a box containing a pair of boots with the cocaine stuffed inside after Emile insisted the box be tightly taped.

Crown prosecutor Maren Zimmer recommended an overall sentence of four years, which would have sent Emile to a federal prison down south.

But his lawyer suggested a sentence of two and half to three years would be appropriate.

Before receiving his sentence, Emile expressed remorse to the court last week.

“I would like to apologize … for my actions,” he said.

While he said he knows it will take some time for him to address his issues, he was hopeful he could.

“I’m very sorry … for the emotional suffering I caused,” Emile said.

Charbonneau ultimately handed Emile a sentence lower than what was suggested by both the defense and Crown.

She ordered him to serve 12 months for the first assault, 17 months concurrent for the second and 12 months for the drug conviction, minus a credit of five and a half months for time he has already served.

He was also given two years probation following his jail time, a DNA order, a 10-year firearms prohibition and is required to pay a $100 victim of crime surcharge for each of the three offences.

Low end of sentencing

While Charbonneau said the sentence was on the low end, she felt it would give Emile better access to culturally appropriate programming than if he served time at a southern penitentiary.

But Emile wasn’t so sure.

After receiving his sentence, he began whispering to his defense lawyer, Katherine Oja.

Oja explained she now found herself “in an unusual situation.”

“It’s a little bit awkward at this point,” she said, “but I feel I have an obligation to raise it.”

She said her client preferred to serve his time at a southern penitentiary rather than in the North.

Emile then addressed the court, telling Charbonneau he had been trying to speak with someone from counselling services for three months but they seem to cater to people with “special needs,” he said.

Prisoners in the territory typically don’t get penitentiary time unless sentenced to more than two years in prison.

He felt he would have better resources at a southern institution and plans to relocate to the south after his time is served, something his partner is also making plans to do, Oja said.

“It would be rather inconsistent of me to change my position at this time,” Charbonneau replied, adding she sits regularly in criminal court and understands federal prisons can be more dangerous places where there is less access to culturally-relevant programs.

She decided to uphold her original decision.

“I’m not convinced at this point I can essentially start from scratch,” she said.