Guilty verdict in St. John’s assault case

Craig Best punched, kicked, spilled beer, spit on ex-girlfriend

Published on April 10, 2014

A Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador justice is siding with the victim in a domestic assault case and has found her ex-boyfriend guilty on three charges.

Craig Adam Todd Best was found guilty Tuesday of assault, assault causing bodily harm and failure to comply with a probation order.

Justice William Goodridge found Best not guilty of assault with a weapon. The latter charge concerned an incident where it was alleged Best threw a beer bottle at his ex-girlfriend. Goodridge felt there was reasonable doubt that happened.

The charges centre on a 20-month period when Best and the victim were still a couple. The victim moved to St. John’s from Goose Bay in the fall of 2009 when she was 18 and met Best, then 23, shortly thereafter.

They dated for several months and eventually lived together. The relationship ended in August 2011 and the victim moved back to Goose Bay. She contacted police a few weeks later.

The original charges stem from 12 alleged incidents described during testimony at a four-day hearing in

St. John’s. Goodridge said that while he found the testimony of both the victim and Best to be credible, their stories were obviously not reconcilable.

Therefore, he looked at each incident individually to determine whether there was any reasonable doubt they occurred. In the end, Goodridge found there was sufficient evidence for four of those events.

He believed Best did punch the victim in the face in February 2010 inside a rental property owned by the accused’s aunt.

He noted a visible scar remained on her face and questioned Best’s description of the incident. Goodridge did not believe the victim punched Best first, as described by the accused.

The judge also believed the testimony describing an incident where Best spilled beer on the victim, pulled her to the floor and dragged the victim by her jacket. This happened in September 2010 after Best asked the victim to give him a set of keys during a card game — a request she refused. Goodridge said the testimony of another witness who was in the same room was credible.

A February 2011 incident where Best kicked the victim several times in the shins was also deemed to have occurred. Goodridge said a doctor’s testimony and records added credibility to the complaint.

Those records identified bruising on the lower left leg, left scapula, left arm pit, right forearm and right temple.

Goodridge also found an alleged assault in the final month of their relationship did occur. He cited the credible testimony of a person who was in the room with the victim when Best spit in her face and pulled the victim’s hair.

Sentencing for Best is tentatively scheduled to take place Sept. 15. The matter is also due back in court May 26 for a status update. Crown prosecutor Scott Kerr and defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan have yet to present recommendations for sentencing.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew