‘In­tense and fo­cused’ attack

Con­victed mur­derer must serve 14 years be­fore ap­ply­ing for pa­role

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF

An Eska­soni man who beat an­other man to death in 2015 must serve 14 years of a life sen­tence be­fore he can be­gin ap­ply­ing for pa­role.

Supreme Court Jus­tice Robin Go­gan im­posed the sen­tence Tues­day, hav­ing pre­vi­ously found Al­bert Michael Bernard, 38, guilty of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der in the death of Dale Frank Den­nis, 36, on July 4, 2015, in Eska­soni.

While a mur­der con­vic­tion car­ries an au­to­matic life sen­tence, in cases of sec­ond-de­gree, a court or jury de­cides how much time an of­fender must serve be­fore be­com­ing el­i­gi­ble to be­gin ap­ply­ing for pa­role. The min­i­mum pe­riod to be served is 10 years and the max­i­mum is 25 years. Hav­ing presided over Bernard’s 12-day trial, Go­gan said the ev­i­dence left her with no rea­son­able doubt that Bernard in­tended to attack Den­nis and cause se­ri­ous bod­ily harm that was likely to kill him.

“He was aware of what he was do­ing,” said the judge, not­ing Bernard’s punches and kicks were fo­cused pri­mar­ily on the neck and head of Den­nis.

Prose­cu­tors Darcy MacPher­son and John MacDon­ald rec­om­mended a 15-16 year pe­riod be­fore Bernard would be el­i­gi­ble for pa­role while de­fence lawyer Dar­lene MacRury rec­om­mended a 10-year pe­riod. The pa­role time clock be­gan tick­ing when Bernard was charged on July 4, 2015.

Go­gan pre­vi­ously de­scribed the attack on Den­nis as “in­tense and fo­cused.”

Ev­i­dence at the trial in­di­cated Den­nis was beaten be­yond recog­ni­tion and that Bernard had used such force, he broke his hand.

In ad­di­tion to punches, Den­nis was also kicked re­peat­edly around the head and neck along with his groin area. At the time of the attack, Bernard was wearing steel-toed boots.

Bernard tes­ti­fied in his own de­fence and said the attack stemmed from his be­lief that his girl­friend was cheat­ing on him with Den­nis.

Bernard has a lengthy crim­i­nal record in­clud­ing con­vic­tions for other vi­o­lent of­fences.

Two re­ports pre­pared for the court prior to sen­tence, de­scribe an in­di­vid­ual who grew up with al­co­hol abuse and phys­i­cal vi­o­lence in the home. Bernard said he be­gan drink­ing at age 11 and do­ing drugs at age 13. At the time of the attack, Bernard was heav­ily in­tox­i­cated.

Family and oth­ers de­scribed Bernard as be­ing a nice guy when he wasn’t drink­ing.

Po­lice now con­sider him a threat to com­mu­nity safety and in one re­port for the court, Eska­soni Chief Leroy Denny said Bernard is not wel­comed back to the First Na­tions com­mu­nity.

In ad­di­tion to the jail sen­tence, Bernard is banned from pos­sess­ing weapons for life and must sup­ply a DNA sam­ple to the na­tional reg­istry.

In meet­ing with Den­nis family mem­bers out­side the court Tues­day, MacPher­son and MacDon­ald ex­plained that Bernard will be un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the na­tional pa­role board for the re­main­der of his life.

MacPher­son ex­plained that should Bernard breach any of the con­di­tions im­posed on him by the board, he could find him­self back be­hind bars.

MacDon­ald said it will be the board that will de­cide where Bernard is to live and un­der what con­di­tions.

MacPher­son said it will be up to Bernard to ap­ply for pa­role, not­ing it will not be granted au­to­mat­i­cally as of­fi­cials will re­view his prison his­tory and other fac­tors.



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