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.