A Saudi Arabian man, who said he tried to choke his daughter as a means of disciplining her, will be leaving on a plane today to go back to his home country.
Khalaf Alshaek was sentenced to time served and one year of probation today in provincial court in St. John's.
As part of his penalty, the 56-year-old agreed to leave the country. Conditions of his probation also include that he have no contact or communication, either directly or indirectly, with his daughter and her Newfoundland-born husband.
Alshaek had pleaded guilty to assaulting his 30-year-old daughter and uttering threats to kill her.
He was arrested Thursday night after a violent outburst, sparked when his daughter told him she wanted to marry a man from this province.
It began at Ches’s Fish ’n’ Chips restaurant on Freshwater Road in St. John’s, where Alshaek, his daughter and the man went together.
When the woman asked her father for approval to marry the man, Alshaek became angry and left.
What Alshaek didn’t know was that his daughter and the man had secretly wed three days before. According to the facts of the case, read in court during his sentencing hearing Monday, the woman was too fearful of her father to admit they were married.
Shortly after that incident at Ches’s, the family went to a house on Lemarchant Road, where they had been staying. Once there, Alshaek attacked his daughter three times, wrapping his hands around her neck. Alshaek believed his daughter, who had always been quiet and shy, was being disobedient.
The woman, who was left with marks on her neck, feared her father would kill her. She managed to text her husband to call police, who took her father into custody.
When he testified at the hearing, Alshaek told the judge that such actions are “an acceptable form of discipline” in his country.
He insisted he meant no harm to the woman. Instead, he was trying to prevent her from making a mistake and shaming the family by marrying a man without their consent.
“I didn’t mean to hurt her,” he said.
“I did it out of love. My heart was in my hands.”
The man — who has lived in St. John’s for the past three years — spoke with the help of a translator.
He said if he had known his daughter was already married, he would not have reacted the way he did. His actions were an attempt to try and prevent her from making a mistake, he said.
He said in Saudi Arabia, it’s the parents’ responsibility to discipline their children if they see them doing anything inappropriate.
“It’s the duty of a parent,” Alshaek said, through the translator.
Crown prosecutor Danny Murphy had recommended a three-month jail term for Alshaek, with a year’s probation.
Defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan had explained to the judge that Alshaek came to St. John’s — with his wife and some of his 10 children — to be a chaperone for his daughter, who is attending Memorial University on a scholarship.
She said what his daughter did was considered disrespectful in his country and that his actions were meant as a preventative measure.
She said Alshaek has the support of the Saudi Arabian government, which provided Alshaek's plane tickets for him and his family.
Alshaek was once again emotional before proceedings today.
Judge Jim Walsh pointed out that, "the conviction will serve to protect the public in the future," as it will flag Alshaek if he tries to get back into the country.
As a condition of Alshaek leaving the country, the judge insisted that a representative from the embassy be present in court to ensure he is escorted personally back to Saudi Arabia.
A representative was in court today, assuring he would escort Alshaek part of the way and that another representative would be with him for the rest of the three-day trip.