A man who choked his girlfriend until she fell unconscious is being urged to break the cycle of violence he witnessed as a child and get to the root of what makes him violent.
Last June, Steven McLaughlin visited Kelowna with a woman he met on Facebook and began to argue with her after seeing her talking to some men he had earlier had a run-in with while she was working as an exotic dancer.
There are conflicting accounts of what happened, said Judge Anne Wallace, but the woman had bruises on her neck from being choked unconscious and a cut to her face.
She disagreed with McLaughlin’s testimony that he acted in self defence and found him guilty of assault with a weapon (knife) and assault causing bodily harm in December.
As a judge, Wallace said she often sees that “an accused’s behaviour is usually a mirror of the behaviour he experienced at home.”
And while she has a “great deal of sympathy” for the upbringing McLaughlin had, “it is not an excuse.”
“You cannot continue to play the role of the victim.”
McLaughlin, 37, witnessed his alcoholic father nearly kill his mother and was himself the victim of abuse as a child.
Later in life the Aboriginal man turned to drinking and drugs for a time and eight years ago threatened the mother of his children.
During McLaughlin’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Wallace said she’s concerned he doesn’t take responsibility for his part in the June altercation and wants him to “get to the root” of what makes him violent.
His lawyer, David Silverman, said there is “desire on McLaughlin’s part to get a handle on his violence issues.
“He knows he’s the one responsible for the injuries she suffered,” Silverman said.
However, McLaughlin does disagree with the court’s conclusion that he was guilty of the charges he was convicted of, Silverman submitted.
Crown counsel David Grabavac asked for a jail sentence between 18 months to two years less a day plus probation, noting that McLaughlin was assessed at a medium to high risk to re-offend.
Defence asked for time served.
In the end, Wallace sentenced McLaughlin to six months in jail, but gave him credit for the five months he has already spent in custody.
As well, he was sentenced to an additional 30 days for a breach charge.
Following jail, McLaughlin will be on probation for 18 months. Conditions include no contact with his former girlfriend, not consuming alcohol, drugs or anabolic steroids, and taking programs through his band to deal with his domestic violence and anger management issues.
He is also not allowed to have weapons, except for work or when hunting for food for his family.