A 21-year-old woman facing more jail time for a serious assault last winter broke down in tears Thursday and begged a judge to let her to go home.
“I could swear and promise on everything” Nikita Pearce said while reading a written statement at her sentencing hearing at provincial court in St. John’s.
“I will not do anything to return back to Clarenville or to get myself into trouble again.”
Pearce has been at the Newfoundland and Labrador Correctional Centre for Women in Clarenville for the past 5 1/2 months.
She was taken there shortly after she was arrested and charged with assault with a weapon, uttering threats and robbery. She pleaded not guilty to the charges, but was convicted following a trial in April.
The charges were laid in connection with an incident that happened Jan. 10 at a cabin near Torbay.
Pearce was there drinking with her girlfriend and two men. Shortly after one of the men left, Pearce and her girlfriend began to argue. Pearce then turned her anger towards the man, who had tried to intervene.
In a fit of rage, Pearce hit and kicked the man repeatedly. She picked up a knife, which had a seven-inch blade, and pointed it at his face, demanding $40.
The man testified during the trial that he feared he would die.
Pearce struck him on the face with the butt end of the knife.
When he told Pearce he had no cash, she took his cellphone, cigarettes, splash pants and sweater in return for being allowed to leave the cabin. He managed to push her out of the way and ran out of the cabin.
When police went to investigate hours after the incident, they found Pearce waving the knife above her shoulder. She was told to drop it several times before she did.
It wasn’t the first time Pearce had attacked the man. She pleaded guilty to charges of uttering threats and assault against him on Oct. 29 and Nov. 6, 2012, when she threatened him on Facebook and hit him with rocks outside his high school.
But Pearce, who was denied bail shortly after her arrest, said her time behind bars has changed her.
With the help of anti-depressants, counselling and educational programs, she said she’s turning her life around.
“I feel remorseful in what happened … but please know they were alcohol related and I am now seeking help for,” Pearce said, sobbing.
“I understand that I found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time and recognize the potential trouble that could of arose from this. I will, in the future, make much better decisions.”
She went on to say that, “Jail is not the place for me.”
She asked Judge Pamela Goulding to consider releasing her to her family, some of whom were in the courtroom and cried as she spoke.
“I most definitely learned my lesson,” Pearce said. “I’m sorry.”
Defence lawyer Arnold Hussey suggested Pearce be given a nine-to-12-month jail sentence, with 1.5 credit for the time she’s already been in custody.
He pointed out that Pearce has taken steps to lower her risk of reoffending. He said she has insight into her alcohol and drug problems and is getting treatment for them.
He noted she was a victim of sexual assault years ago and today, has strong family support.
But Crown prosecutor Danny Vavasour said Pearce should get three or four years in prison, with straight time credit for the time already served.
He pointed to the pre-sentence report, which deemed Pearce a very high risk to reoffend. He said she did not take responsibility or acknowledge the seriousness of what she did. He said she needs to be deterred from doing it again.
Goulding will render her sentencing decision July 17.