At Penticton’s courthouse, Marvin Volk was sentenced to 10 months in jail for a single punch that meant “catastrophic consequences” for a man in his 60s and his wife. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

10 in jail months for punch with ‘catastrophic consequences’

Judge had to weight severe consequences for victim against an accused who didn’t fit the bill

A 49-year-old grandfather will spend a total of 10 months in jail for an Okanagan Falls assault with “catastrophic” consequences for another man in his late 60s.

Mervin Volk was found guilty in June 2016 of aggravated assault against Manuel Medeiros for a single punch that knocked the senior unconscious and left him with a serious brain injury, according to court documents published online.

In sentencing Volk, Judge Gregory Koturbash was sympathetic toward Volk, who was reacting to a long series of alleged threats and harassment from Medeiros’s son before “reaching a tipping point.”

“He confronted Mr. and Ms. Medeiros outside their residence. He was angry and agitated. The Medeiroses told Mr. Volk that their son did not live there and told him to leave; Mr. Volk did not. He and Mr. Medeiros yelled at each other and Mr. Volk eventually punched Mr. Medeiros in the head,” the ruling reads.

Crown was seeking 12 to 18 months incarceration for the incident, which came with an 18-month maximum due to prosecutors electing to proceed summarily rather than by indictment.

Proceeding by indictment would have granted Volk the opportunity to elect trial by jury, but also comes with lengthier sentences.

The defence, on the other hand, was seeking a conditional sentence to be served in the community or a sentence in the intermittent range, which would allow Volk to serve only on weekends. That would mean a maximum of 90 days incarceration.

“The dilemma posed by this case is that the offence committed by Mr. Volk is very serious, but he has a very minor and dated background of criminality, and is a contributing member of society who is not likely to ever commit such an offence again,” Koturbash wrote.

He also noted that Volk was married with grandchildren and worked in logging and fishing, with colleagues calling him a “very dependable and hardworking family man.”

Mendeiros, who operated a janitorial service with his wife at the time of the incident, was hospitalized 10 days after the incident. Due to the brain injury he had to learn how to walk again, and he still suffers from issues of anxiety, depression, frustration and bouts of anger.

His driver’s licence has been restricted, and he has not been able to return to work, Koturbash wrote, noting that the family has had to hire an employee to make up for the work Mendeiros did.

“Their lives have been forever changed, and he has likely forever lost his freedom to enjoy life to its fullest,” Koturbash wrote.

“Mr. and Mrs. Medeiros are not the same people anymore. They cannot do the things a married couple at their stage of life should be doing. Instead, Mrs. Medeiros is required to care for her husband who has a serious brain injury, and this can be like taking care of a very emotionally demanding teenager. She understands, of course, that this behaviour is not his fault.”

At the time of the incident, Koturbash noted Volk showed immediate signs of remorse, helping to call emergency crews for help. He noted the strong mitigating circumstances for Volk included that remorse and the fact that the assault was so uncharacteristic.

“Although his motivations were compelling, his actions were misguided and misplaced,” Koturbash wrote, adding he accepted that while Volk punched Medeiros on purpose, “he did not intend the catastrophic consequences.”

But the damage done, Koturbash said, did require denunciation that he did not believe could be achieved through even an intermittent sentence.

“It is an obvious and painful reality that the accused’s sentence today can do nothing to change what happened to Mr. Medeiros,” Koturbash wrote. “A sentence has a limited ability to provide closure and cannot restore the life that Mr. Medeiros and his family shared before the assault.”

Volk was sentenced to 10 months in jail followed by 12 months probation, and was handed a $2,900 victim surcharge fee — well above the typical $100 per charge that is mandatory on a summary conviction.

That was due to the $2,900 bill to the Medeiros family footed by the Crime Victims Assistance Program, funded through victim surcharges.

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