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Truro judge sentences a father to jail time for “gutless, cowardly attack" on son

Provincial courthouse, Truro. HARRY SULLIVAN/TRURO NEWS
Provincial courthouse, Truro. File photo

A Truro judge has sentenced a father to 90 days in jail for a “gutless, cowardly attack" on his young son.

The man, who is only identified by his initials in the written decision released Wednesday, first hit "his son in the head with a lunging elbow strike," said provincial court Judge Alain Bégin.

Then he "raised and pinned his son against the house," Bégin said.

The dad also "hook-punched his son in the head with such force that it lifted his son off of his feet," the judge said.

Bégin found the dad guilty of the July 7, 2017 assault.

"Even after being found guilty at trial of assault, (the father) continued to maintain his innocence.  It was not until the very end of the sentencing hearing when (the dad) had the opportunity to address the court did he finally acknowledge that he had, in fact, assaulted his son," said the judge.

He "now admits to only striking his son twice in the head with an open hand."

The Crown was looking for a jail sentence between 90 and 180 days.

The father's defence lawyer sought a conditional discharge plus probation for the assault.

"There is no doubt that (the father) endured a difficult upbringing.  To his credit he appears to have risen above those initial setbacks and difficulties and he found respectable employment in the healthcare field where he has been gainfully employed for many years," said the judge.

The father "is to be commended for, very late in the process, commencing counselling.  Hopefully going forward in his counselling he will be fully honest with his counsellors as to what he actually did to his son on July 7, 2017 so that he gets meaningful assistance.  Counselling requires candor, and honesty, with the counsellor to be successful."

It was an aggravating factor that the father "assaulted a vulnerable child who was in a position of trust, and who looked to (him) for protection.  The repeated assaults on the child are also aggravating," Bégin said.

"This was not a single blow out of frustration and a momentary lapse of judgment, but this involved several assaults on his child."

The judge said he had to "consider the obvious emotional trauma to the victim. Hopefully the involvement of the Department of Community Services has provided him the assistance and counselling that he needs."

The judge said accepting partial responsibility for the assault is a mitigating factor in the case. "It was late in the day, but it was a start."

The dad "is in a precarious financial situation," where a long jail sentence would mean losing his home," Bégin said.

"So I will endeavor to craft a sentence that will show more compassion for (the father) than he showed for his child on July 7, 2017 and that will permit (the dad) to continue working."

He banned the father from owning a firearm for a decade and ordered him to serve the 90 days intermittently on weekends.

The judge also put the dad on probation for 30 months.

One of the probation conditions is the father has to stay away from drugs, including marijuana, without a valid prescription. "The reason I’m doing those drug terms is that (the father) indicated that he was, perhaps experimenting, self-medicating at the time these offences occurred," the judge said.

The dad is also banned from communicating with his son unless the Department of Community Services allows it.

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