Criminal harassment results in house arrest, probation

'It appears this new relationship unleashed an angry, unnerving and frightening series of events'

A Savona man who conducted a two-year campaign of criminal harassment against his ex-wife will have to follow strict conditions after he was sentenced Monday to four months of house arrest.

Paul Hommel, 50, was given a conditional-sentence order in the form of a custodial sentence to be served in the community as well as two years of probation.

"I regret my behaviour and look forward to moving on in a constructive fashion with my life," Hommel told Judge Sheri Donegan at the start of Monday's sentencing hearing.

Between May 2009 and March 2011, after his ex-wife had started a new relationship, Hommel distributed booklets and letters that frightened, harassed and embarrassed the woman, the judge noted.

"It appears this new relationship unleashed an angry, unnerving and frightening series of events," Donegan said.

The first incident was on Mother's Day 2009, when Hommel presented his ex-wife with a copy of the book 101 Lies: Lies Men Tell Women and Why Women Believe Them. He then spat in her face and provided her with a box containing her wedding shoes - they'd been separated since 2008. The word "slut" was written in black marker on the shoes.

Later that year, when the woman was attending a wedding in Alberta, Hommel left disturbing messages on her cellphone. On Christmas Eve that year, while dropping off their daughter, he gave her a "memoir" replete with vulgarities. Hommel's writing indicated a belief that he was the victim of a grand plot to undermine him. He delivered more offensive material on New Year's Eve.

Hommel also distributed copies of the the same booklet he'd given his ex-wife to a local business and to her fellow employees at work, with additions and derogatory remarks penned in.

After Hommel's ex-wife told him she'd be moving in with her new partner, he took the letter, smeared his own feces on it and posted it on her the door of her residence.

The acts continued, even after her lawyer sent Hommel a letter demanding that he stop his harassment. Hommel sent disparaging letters to the couple's new neighbours.

Crown prosecutor Kate Bouchard asked for the maximum sentence allowable - six months' imprisonment to be served in the community and three years' probation with a firearms ban.

Calling that excessive, defence lawyer Jeremy Jensen sought one year of probation. Jensen argued that Hommel has no prior criminal history, aside from an aged drunk driving conviction. He suggested that the ordeal of the man's trial and conviction, as well as counselling before and after his offending acts, have helped to heal him.

Donegan said the courts are supposed to send a specific message of deterrence to offenders and general messages of deterrence to the community in sentencing for criminal harassment. This is to be upheld even when physical violence is not involved, recognizing the psychological trauma wrought by the offence.

"I find a jail sentence is clearly appropriate," she said.

Aside from work and two hours for personal needs each day, Hommel is to be confined to his home by a curfew for the next four months. He is not to have any contact with his ex-wife or members of her family with the exception of supervised visits with their daughter.

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