Sen­tences vary for west coast men con­victed of as­sault­ing police of­fi­cers


COR­NER BROOK, N.L. – A Cor­ner Brook judge took the sever­ity of the in­ci­dents into ac­count when he handed down two dif­fer­ent sen­tences for as­sault­ing a police of­fi­cer dur­ing sep­a­rate ap­pear­ances in pro­vin­cial court on June 13.

In both cases, Judge Wayne Gor­man stressed police of­fi­cers should be able to do their jobs with­out be­ing sub­ject to any phys­i­cal vi­o­lence.

Nathan Steven­son, 26, of Stephenvil­le, was charged on Jan. 19, 2018 with as­sault­ing a police of­fi­cer and pos­ses­sion of con­trolled drugs or sub­stances.

The as­sault oc­curred dur­ing a traf­fic stop on the Trans-Canada High­way near Deer Lake.

Steven­son was stopped for speeding and the RCMP of­fi­cer in­volved smelled mar­i­juana com­ing from his ve­hi­cle. Steven­son was ar­rested and as he was be­ing placed in a police ve­hi­cle, turned and struck the of­fi­cer on the side with his el­bow. He then fled by run­ning down the high­way.

The of­fi­cer caught up to him and a strug­gle en­sued dur­ing which Steven­son struck the of­fi­cer with his shoul­der.

The of­fi­cer had dif­fi­culty breath­ing and lost con­scious­ness and was later treated at Western Me­mo­rial Re­gional Hos­pi­tal in Cor­ner Brook. The in­ci­dent was video­taped by a cam­era mounted at the front of the police ve­hi­cle.

A search of Steven­son’s ve­hi­cle re­sulted in the seizure of 28 grams of co­caine and 32 grams of mar­i­juana and a set of dig­i­tal scales.

Steven­son pleaded guilty to the charges, how­ever, a dis­pute over the facts had been set­tled through a Gar­diner Hear­ing.

The Crown sought a pe­riod of 90 days in jail and took no is­sue with Gor­man con­sid­er­ing al­low­ing Steven­son to serve the sen­tence on an in­ter­mit­tent ba­sis.

Gor­man chose to ex­er­cise that op­tion. He said he felt a pe­riod of in­car­cer­a­tion is nec­es­sary be­cause the as­sault was com­mit­ted on a police of­fi­cer and be­cause of its se­ri­ous­ness.

Gor­man said al­low­ing Steven­son to serve the sen­tence in­ter­mit­tently re­flects his lack of prior con­vic­tions and will pro­mote his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and al­low him to main­tain his em­ploy­ment.

Steven­son was also placed on pro­ba­tion for a pe­riod of 12 months. Con­di­tions of his pro­ba­tion include that he have no con­tact with the of­fi­cer, un­less it is through the of­fi­cer while car­ry­ing out his du­ties as a peace of­fi­cer.

He was to be­gin serv­ing his sen­tence on June 14.

Just mo­ments af­ter hand­ing down Steven­son’s sen­tence, the case of Marcel Marche was called.

The 36-year-old from the Port au Port area also faced a charge of as­sault­ing a peace of­fi­cer.

In Marche’s case the as­sault oc­curred af­ter he had been ar­rested on Aug. 11, 2018 fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent in­volv­ing his family. Marche was in­tox­i­cated at the time.

When ap­proached by police he ran into a wooded area and was chased by RCMP of­fi­cers. Af­ter police caught up with him and placed him under ar­rest, Marche kicked one of them in the leg. Marche was not co-op­er­a­tive dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

The Crown sought a 30-day con­di­tional sen­tence and the de­fence sug­gested a high fine and short pe­riod of pro­ba­tion.

Gor­man told Marche that when police of­fi­cers are sub­jected to phys­i­cal vi­o­lence the court has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­flect so­ci­ety’s dis­tain for such be­hav­iour in the sen­tences it im­poses, and the sen­tence has to be suf­fi­cient to de­ter other in­di­vid­u­als.

It also has to be pro­por­tion­ate to the se­ri­ous­ness of the in­ci­dent. In the Steven­son case, Gor­man noted the as­sault on the of­fi­cer was more se­ri­ous than in Marche’s case.

An ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tor for Marche is that he has a pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion for as­sault.

Gor­man sen­tenced Marche to 14 days to be served con­di­tion­ally. He’s also sub­ject to a two-year firearms pro­hi­bi­tion.

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