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Crown seeks 10-plus years for Island man in box cutter attack

Comox Valley case revolved around accused’s attacks against common-law wife
Crown and defence made sentencing arguments in the Clinton Armstrong case in B.C. Supreme Court in Courtenay on Friday. Black Press file photo

Clinton G. Armstrong should spend the next decade or so in prison, according to Crown counsel.

In Courtenay, on Friday, the Comox Valley man had a sentencing hearing for breaking in, unlawful confinement, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, uttering threats, mischief to property over $5,000 and two breaches of conditions.

Crown counsel Bob Richardson told Justice Anthony Saunders the appropriate sentence would be in the range of 10 to 11 years to be served concurrently, though time-served will still have to be taken into account. He had referred to case law for the more serious offences, specifically, the aggravated assault and break-in charges.

Earlier this year, Armstrong went on trial B.C. Supreme Court in relation to two incidents involving his former common-law wife, the first in late December 2019, following by a more serious one in February 2020.

RELATED STORY: Courtenay man who slashed confined wife with box-cutter not guilty of attempted murder

Armstrong’s charges had included attempted murder, but at trial, the judge accepted the defence argument that the accused had access to a kitchen knife instead of the box-cutter he used and that ultimately he had wanted to maim her rather than kill her, despite making statements he would kill her during the attack. He was instead found guilty of the offences of assault with a weapon and aggravated assault, along with several lesser offences.

“It was a brutal vicious assault on a defence-less intimate partner,” Richardson said.

He highlighted some of the aggravating factors when making arguments for sentencing, such as the many wounds including one of 16 cm down her face. He also mentioned the extensive damage to her house from the break-in and vandalism to her vehicle.

Armstrong had been arrested after a second incident that included the attack with the box-cutter on Feb. 10, 2020. Among the charges was also one for confinement, as the victim feared she could not leave the house. Previously, there was an altercation between the two in December 2019 at their home. At that time, he had been planning to move out and allegedly slapped her. At the trial, Saunders ultimately accepted her testimony over Armstrong’s and found him guilty of assault.

During Friday’s sentencing arguments, Richardson also asked the judge to consider a lifetime weapons ban as well as a non-communication order. He also submitted the receipts for $29,000 for damage to the home and vehicle.

Bobak Movassaghi, Armstrong’s lawyer, suggested the terms for aggravated assault typically fell more in the range of 16 months to six years at the high end. He said the break-in sentencing was aggravated by the aggravated assault, which in turn was made worse by the break-in. He said the two charges went “hand in hand,” but that Saunders should not “double up” the aggravating factors against his client when passing a sentence.

He noted more serious results from maiming such as loss of a limb or a sense such as hearing to justify more serious aggravated assault injuries.

“We don’t have that here,” he said.

Another factor Movassaghi cited was that while Armstrong had a record, it had been more than a decade since his last conviction and he had only served jail time for two weeks for a driving offence almost 30 years ago.

“Mr. Armstrong has a very dated criminal record,” he said.

Movassaghi reiterated earlier points about how his client was “not himself” that day and reported blacking out. He said the Crown was trying to seek a sentence more in line with a charge of attempted murder, which was no longer relevant in this case.

“We’re not dealing with attempted murder,” he said, adding something in the “middle of the range” such as four and a half years might be more appropriate.

Saunders had hoped to give the sentence Friday, but the discussions took most of the day. Because of some scheduling challenges, the sentencing will have to wait until Nov. 15 for the conclusion.

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