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Vernon man sentenced to 5 years for ‘brutal’ attack on disabled woman

Robert Kingswood violently attacked the woman unprovoked outside a liquor store in October 2021
Robert Kingswood, 46, in handcuffs outside the Vernon Law Courts Saturday, Sept. 22, 2023. Kingswood was sentenced to five years in jail for a random attack on a disabled woman in October 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

A Vernon man will spend five years in jail for a random attack on a vulnerable woman that left her with “permanent” injuries.

Robert Kingswood, 46, was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 22, for the aggravated assault that took place outside a Vernon liquor store in October 2021.

Crown counsel Margaret Cissell and defence counsel Courtenay Simmons presented Justice Alan Ross with a joint submission Friday, calling for the five-year sentence, which Ross noted was at the higher end of the range of sentencing for aggravated assault.

The court heard Kingswood encountered the victim — who we have chosen not to name — outside the East Side Liquor Store on Oct. 21, 2021. The two had never met before, but they fell into a conversation.

Kingswood went into the liquor store and purchased a bottle of whiskey, which he then brought outside and shared with the victim, a 58-year-old woman who was in a mobility scooter.

Video surveillance shown in court showed the two talking in front of the store. The court heard both had been drinking, and the two spent over two hours together. At one point they even briefly danced. Video shows the two hugging on multiple occasions.

Then, out of nowhere, things took a violent turn.

A second video showed Kingsood grab the victim’s neck with his right hand and deliver 13 blows to the victim’s face. Kingswood then grabbed her hair and dragged her out of her mobility scooter and onto the ground. Kingswood, who weighed 287 pounds at the time of the incident, proceeded to stomp on the victim’s head six times, taking time to stabilize himself before each blow.

Kingswood left the victim bleeding on the sidewalk, and Ross noted he made no effort to call 911 or ascertain the extent of her injuries.

Cissell said the victim suffered a traumatic brain injury, a skull fracture, facial lacerations, fractured orbital bones, broken ribs and other injuries. She spent days in hospital and at times doctors weren’t sure if she was going to survive the attack.

Cissell read a victim impact statement that said the victim had suffered permanent physical damage. Once an outgoing person, she is now afraid to go outside for fear of another random attack. Her memory has been significantly affected and she’s unable to work, and often can’t afford to pay for groceries or her bills.

Simmons, reading the agreed statement of facts, said Kingswood had no recollection of committing the assault. He woke up in the morning and discovered blood on his clothes, and thought it was him that had been attacked. Kingswood went to the police and was eventually shown the video of the assault he committed.

Simmons said Kingswood was “shocked” to learn what he had done.

“He couldn’t believe the offence he had committed.”

Ross accepted as mitigating factors that Kingswood has no criminal record, that he entered an early guilty plea that spared the victim and her family from a lengthy trial, and that he expressed “genuine remorse” for his actions as soon as he was arrested a couple days after the assault. It was also noted Kingswood has been on strict bail conditions for nearly two years without breaching those conditions.

However, Ross said the victim was “the definition of vulnerable,” given she was 14 years older than Kingswood, was in a mobility scooter and was to some degree intoxicated at the time of the assault.

Cissell said there was no provocation “that could have justified or even instigated” the attack.

She noted that Kingswood’s punches were “methodical” and he wasn’t merely in a drunken stupor.

Simmons told the court Kingwood had grown up with a severely alcoholic father and had problems with alcohol consumption in his life. She spent much of her defence describing a rare kidney condition Kingswood was diagnosed with in which he experiences severe pain due to kidney stones once or twice a month. She said there is no treatment available for the condition other than pain management, and that Kingswood was on an opiate medication for pain relief when he was living in Ontario.

When he moved to Vernon in 2014, doctors would not prescribe him an opiate, and Simmons said at times he would drink alcohol as a way to manage pain, while at the same time admitting he also had substance abuse issues.

It was noted that Kingswood has mental health issues, but Ross did not excuse his behaviour on that basis, highlighting the fact that Kingswood has never been diagnosed with psychosis or other delusional disorders.

“The attack was brutal,” Ross said, adding Kingswood was “completely morally responsible” and his actions “inexplicable.”

Several of the victim’s family members were in the Vernon Law Courts to hear the sentencing, including Ed Rea.

“Justice has been served, and I just hope that he takes advantage of the help that he can get in the federal system, and then he’ll come out ready to make a positive contribution to our society,” Rae said.

Kingswood was originally charged with attempted murder, but that charge was stayed Friday.

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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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