An alcoholic was spared additional jail time as well as a no-alcohol condition when he was sentenced in provincial court on Monday for assault causing bodily harm.
Gerard Peters, 48, a Tk’emlups First Nation member, was given an 18-month suspended sentence after he apologized to the court for assaulting a former girlfriend on July 1, 2011. As a condition of his probation, however, he must complete counselling programs on alcohol abuse and relationship violence.
The assault took place after Peters and his girlfriend returned from Canada Day festivities in Riverside Park. They’d both been drinking, but Peters continued to drink into the evening.
Peters accused his girlfriend of having relationship with another man, then began throwing her about the living room and kicking her in the legs. He kicked her in the knees while she was seated on the toilet. When she went to the bedroom, he pounced on top of her and began punching her in the face and ribs while verbally assaulting her as well.
The victim attempted but could not get to the phone to contact her sister and then the police. The next morning, she was able to leave when Peters went to use the bathroom. She said she knew him for several months and that their relationship was a casual hook-up.
Crown counsel Carol Hawes suggested a short period of incarceration and one year of probation, including a no-alcohol condition.
Defence counsel Ken Walker agreed with most of the Crown’s submissions but argued that an abstinence order would merely invite a breach of probation, sending Peters back before a judge. Peters does not remember the events surrounding the assault, he noted.
“It’s just so tough, particularly for First Nations people and people suffering from alcoholism, to go with that,” Walker said.
A Gladue report — a type of pre-sentence report that considers aboriginal background — was prepared, Walker noted. That required Peters to revisit the experiences of his past.
“It was not easy for Mr. Peters to revisit,” Walker said, noting the degree of alcohol abused in the man’s life and the tough times of his youth. “It reminds us of the differences of First Nation people living in their communities and how difficult it is.”
Judge Chris Cleaveley agreed not to impose a no-alcohol condition, but included another condition barring Peters from attending any establishment from which minors are barred and alcohol is sold.