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Gruesome attack lands man in jail
Man who assaulted woman and bit off a piece of her chin sentenced to 15 months

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Monday, April 25, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A 22-year-old Behchoko man who "partially blacked out" from alcohol when he brutally attacked a woman, and in one instance, gruesomely bit off a piece of her chin, was sentenced to 15 months in jail on April 20 in territorial court.

"The type of behaviour displayed by Mr. Wanazah signals we don't know what he's capable of," said Crown prosecutor Danielle Vaillancourt, who asked Judge Robert Gorin to impose a prison term in the range of two to three years for the accused, Joshua Baptiste Wanazah.

On March 27, 2011 at 4:15 p.m., in Behchoko, Wanazah got into an argument with the female because she refused to lend him money. Wanazah became angry, pushed her against a house and punched her on the right side of her face with a closed fist. When she fell to the ground, he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her "yelling and screaming" to his nearby residence. Once inside, he jumped on top of her and bit a piece - about the size of a thumb - of her chin off before family members could intervene. Vaillancourt said doctors were unable to reattach the piece of flesh he bit off.

Vaillancourt said Wanazah's criminal record has two previous assault convictions, including one against the same woman. "Rehabilitation has been tried and he simply isn't getting the message," she said.

In addition to the jail term, she asked the court to impose a 10-year firearms ban and a DNA order.

Defence lawyer Serge Petitpas told the court his client "partially blacked out" and "vaguely remembers" the attack. He asked court for a nine-month jail sentence for his client, and asked the judge to consider Wanazah's troublesome upbringing in a home with father who was a residential school survivor, drank heavily and physically abused Wanazah.

Wanazah apologized to the court, and said alcohol has been a part of his life for a long time. He admitted what he did that afternoon was "pretty bad."

Gorin originally sentenced Wanazah to 16 months in jail but gave him credit for time served since his March 23 arrest. Besides the jail term, Gorin sentenced Wanazah to a two-year probation order, a 10-year firearms ban and ordered him to provide a sample of his DNA to police. He also fined Wanazah $100 as part the victims of crime surcharge which supports crime prevention and victim support organizations. Gorin said he found the Crown's recommendation was appropriate, and would have sentenced Wanazah to two years in prison if he didn't enter an early guilty plea on April 19, 2011.

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