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Conditional discharge for domestic violence case upheld by court

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A B.C. man who committed a series of violent and degrading acts against his partner will not have a criminal record despite an appeal by the Crown.

The Scales of Justice statue at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. A B.C. man who committed a series of violent and degrading acts against his partner will not have a criminal record despite an appeal by the Crown. Jason Payne / PNG

A B.C. man who committed a series of violent and degrading acts against his partner has had a conditional discharge upheld after an appeal by the Crown.

Joshua Bailey Delgren pleaded guilty in provincial court to one count of assault in relation to events that occurred over a four-day period, from June 1 to 4, 2017.

At the time of the offence, Delgren, 25, and the 22-year-old victim, who was not identified in a court ruling on the case, were in an ongoing intimate relationship that was described as being “very difficult and conflictual.”

Delgren hit the victim, pushed her against the wall, burned her leg with a cigarette, spat on her, threw a mug of water at her and struck or placed his hand in her vaginal area over her clothes.

On the final day, he straddled the victim while she was lying in bed and choked her for about 30 seconds, as well as head-butted her.

The victim was able to text her sister words to the effect of “get me out of here” and police were called.

Provincial court Judge Patricia Stark sentenced Delgren to a conditional discharge, which means he will not have a criminal record, as well as a two-year period of probation.

The Crown, which had argued for a conditional sentence to be served in the community, appealed the sentence, arguing that the judge had failed to consider whether a conditional discharge was contrary to the public interest.

At the time of the sentencing, Delgren had no prior criminal record or history of domestic violence and had expressed both remorse for his actions and insight into what had occurred.

He had been compliant with bail conditions for over a year and was willing to accept probationary terms aimed at his rehabilitation.

Underlying the offences was his ongoing struggle with drugs and alcohol, as well as some mental-health issues including anxiety. His Aboriginal background was also a factor in sentencing.

In his ruling on the appeal, B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Harvey agreed with the Crown and found that the sentencing judge had erred in failing to articulate the basis upon which she concluded that a discharge was not contrary to the public interest.

Harvey said the legal error impacted the sentence, noting that had the judge tried to express the basis for her finding, she may have found her conclusion was unsupportable.

But after doing his own analysis of the circumstances of the offence, the circumstances of Delgren and the sentencing positions advanced by the Crown and the defence, Harvey found that the error had not resulted in an unfit sentence.

The Crown’s concern that the repetitive nature of the offences made the sentence unfit was properly addressed by the imposition upon Delgren of a substantially longer period of probation than sought by either the Crown or the defence, the judge said.

kfraser@postmedia.com

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