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Manhandling girlfriend not 'OK' says judge

Incident occurred on day of son's birthday

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 28/02) - Judge Michel Bourassa sentenced a man to 18-months in jail last week even though one of his victims testified for the defence and called the violence "OK."

The 33-year-old with 86 prior criminal convictions was found guilty of assault, assault with a weapon, and possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace. The charges stem from three separate incidents.

On July 4, 2002, an argument broke out between the accused and his girlfriend while the woman's son was in another room.

The woman's son, 23, testified it was his birthday and he was relaxing in his room. After hearing the accused threatening his mother he left his room, saw the accused choking his terrified mother and called the police.

Both the accused and his girlfriend were heavily intoxicated. The woman's son was sober.

RCMP officer Christopher Worden, who arrived at the scene shortly after, said the woman refused to be examined but she did point to her neck, indicating it hurt.

She also refused to give a statement to police after the incident and downplayed the violence while testifying for the defence. She said the accused was holding her by her chin.

"Was that OK?" asked defence lawyer Glen Boyd.

"I've been manhandled worse than that," she responded. "That was OK with me."

The other incident occurred on June 13, 2002 when the accused arrived at the woman's house after drinking behind the Right Spot.

The woman's son said he told the accused to shut up because he was causing a disturbance.

"He took offence to that. I think I put him outside to try to get rid of him."

Then the accused started banging a golf club on the deck, he said.

"I opened the door and he had the golf club and he was swinging it at my face like a baseball bat."

He wrestled it out of the accused's hand. Then his mother grabbed it and started swinging it at the accused who was holding a chair up to defend himself.

According to the accused, it was the son who started the fight. However, he contradicted himself when discussing if and how he ended up holding the golf club.

When the judge left to deliberate, the victim, who described herself as a "friend and lover" of the accused said:

"I wish someone would tell me if I'm free to go now. I can go? Thank God."

She then left before the verdict came down.

When the judge returned several minutes later, he called the accused's version of events "fraught with inconsistencies and unreliable."

As for the victim's statement about the violence being OK, he said:

"Is she consenting to a degree of manhandling? That's a terrible situation to be in."

He pointed to her son's testimony that she looked fearful and added many women don't tell the whole truth because they don't want their spouse to go to jail.

"I have difficulty coming to the conclusion that it's OK."