A local man was sentenced Thursday to a year in prison for the vicious and unprovoked assault of a woman near Kamloops Yacht Club earlier this month.
Billy Walkem, 47, received 12 months in custody, to be followed by a two-year probationary period, for the aggravated assault, which took place July 23. He must also serve concurrent 30-day sentences for earlier charges of mischief and breach of undertaking.
On July 18, police responded to a report of a man breaking into a parking garage in the 400 block of Battle Street. When officers arrived, they found Walkem seated on the garage floor, leaning against a wall and heavily intoxicated. The garage door was damaged.
Walkem was arrested and later released on condition that he not return to the garage or consume drugs or alcohol. He was living at Henry Leland House at the time, but by July 23 he was staying at a makeshift campsite on the riverbank near the yacht club.
On that day, police responded to a call reporting an assault, said Crown counsel Carole Hawes. They arrived to find the victim, a woman who had also been staying at the campsite, at the rear of the yacht club. She had suffered bruising and lacerations to her face and arm, and identified Walkem, a friend, as her attacker.
Police were directed by witnesses to Walkem, who fell upon the grass and lay motionless when approached. The police officer felt the man was pretending to suffer a seizure to avoid arrest, but an ambulance was summoned as a precaution in any case.
In a statement, the woman told police that she and Walkem were drinking coolers and shared a joint at the campsite. He suddenly attacked her for no apparent reason and hit her on the head with a rock. He was not her boyfriend, as initially reported, and did not attempt sexual assault.
Defence counsel Sheldon Tate said his client is remorseful over the assault but could provide no explanation.
A member of the Spences Bridge Indian Band, Walkem entered an early guilty plea and waived his right to a Gladue report — a presentencing report that considers aboriginal background — in order to access programs in custody. Tate noted that the man, raised in foster homes, has been alcoholic since youth. His tragic path is shared by a high proportion of aboriginals raised in foster care, Tate added.
In a joint submission, Crown and defence recommended jail time to be followed by probation with the stipulation that Walkem report just once to a probation officer. After his release, Walkem intends to return Spences Bridge and seek the support services of his band.
In addition, Walkem is to have no contact with the victim, must submit a DNA sample and cannot possess weapons.