Judge Saunderson hands down second conviction for domestic assault

Santana Francis told police she tripped and fell

Santana Francis told police she tripped and fell.

She was “sniffling and crying” when the officer found her. There was a reddish wound around her eye and some fresh blood on her as well, but she refused to implicate her boyfriend of eight months, Richard Price.

However, the officer didn’t believe her story and arrested Price, 30, for assault.

According to Crown prosecutor Adrienne Venturini, on May 24, around 7:35 p.m., Price and Francis were walking together along the Island Highway, near the Best Western Hotel, and were seen arguing.

An off-duty RCMP officer saw them and so did a motorist. The driver said it appeared that Price “clocked” Francis who fell to the ground, and then dragged her a short distance.

The police officer also told investigators she saw Francis go to the ground, likely from a blow to the face or a head butt.

But Price denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to assault as well as two counts of violating a court order.

The court orders were a result of Price being convicted in February for assaulting Francis on Cortes Island.

Price received a two-month jail sentence for that conviction and was also ordered to have no contact with Francis and to not consume alcohol.

But in May, the no contact order was lifted and on the night in question, both of them had been drinking when the assault occurred.

On Monday, in provincial court, Price changed his pleas to guilty on the assault and violating a court order by drinking.

He’s been in custody since his arrest after he was unable to come with the $2,500 bail.

Venturini asked Judge Brian Saunderson to impose a four-month jail sentence  to be followed by two years probation.

She also suggested a no-contact order was necessary to protect Francis who was unco-operative during the investigation.

But Judge Saunderson wanted to hear from Francis who was in the courtroom.

“I believe we should have contact…we love each other,” she told the court.

Francis also admitted they start arguing when they’ve been drinking; typically a 12-pack of beer each. Francis indicated she wants to seek treatment along with Price for their problems associated with alcohol, and that she wants to be with Price.

Judge Saunderson said the court is very familiar with these type of situations where an abused woman is prepared to return to her violent partner, but added that a no-contact order would likely be disregarded by both people.

“I am not prepared to make an order prohibiting contact,” he said.

In the end, Price was sentenced to four months jail and one year probation.

He was also ordered to take counselling and residential treatment for alcoholism, and he cannot go to Cortes Island.