Man who brutally assaulted woman gets close to time served

Thirty-four-year-old sentenced to six more days in jail, two years’ probation

Rosie Mullaley
Published on July 1, 2014
Gregory Turner (right) shares a laugh with his lawyer, Jerome Kennedy, during a break in proceedings in Turner’s sentencing hearing Monday at provincial court in
St. John’s. — Photo by Rose Mullaley/The Telegram

Gregory Turner’s case is proof that hooking up with someone downtown is not always a good idea.
Turner — who met a woman downtown, took her back to his place and then assaulted her — has been given a year-long jail term.

But he’ll spend only six more days behind bars.

The 34-year-old, who has been in custody since just after the incident last November, was given 1.5 times credit for the period he’s already been in jail, leaving just under a week left on his term.

Turner was sentenced Monday in provincial court in St. John’s.

Once he’s out of jail, he’ll serve two years’ probation with conditions that include he have no contact or communication with the woman.

Turner had originally been charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats, but the Crown amended the first charge and  he pleaded guilty to the lesser count of assault causing bodily harm. The second count was withdrawn in exchange for the guilty plea.

Turner was arrested as a result of an incident that happened on Nov. 2, 2013.

The night before, at around midnight, he had helped a woman who was drunk and had fallen down outside a downtown gas station, where she had gotten a taxi to buy alcohol.

After a brief conversation, the woman agreed to go back to Turner’s apartment on Burgeo Street.

At 7:20 a.m. the next morning, the two had a disagreement and Turner became violent. He held her down by her wrists, bit her chest and dragged her to the door, where he threw her out. She was wearing nothing but his T-shirt. He then left and drove away.

A 911 call from a neighbour reported a woman in distress outside the house. The woman, who appeared to still be drunk, was covered in bruises, some of them severe, especially to her chest, hip and arm.

She was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, treated and released.

Crown prosecutor Tannis King and defence lawyer Jerome Kennedy agreed to recommend a year-long prison term, but they disagreed on the credit Turner should get for the time he had spent in custody.

King said straight-time credit was warranted. She pointed out that Turner, who was denied bail, has a

16-page record from this province, along with several offences committed in Lloydminster, Alta., where he lived for a brief time.

But Kennedy said Turner should get 1.5 times credit, since time on remand was harsher than that served by the average inmate.

He said Turner spent three weeks at the St. John’s lockup, where conditions are much worse than at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP). When he was finally moved to HMP, Kennedy said Turner was put in the special handling unit because there was no room in the other units. Kennedy also cited the two riots at HMP in the last six months, as well as a stabbing incident in the chapel.

When Turner got his chance to speak, he apologized to the victim, his family and the court.

“I just want to get this over and move forward with my life,” he said.

In ruling that Turner get 1.5 times credit for his time in custody, Judge David Orr acknowledged that there are more restrictions for prisoners on remand.

He added that there was no weapon used in the assault against the woman and while the woman’s bruises were severe, she had no lasting physical effects and didn’t need further medical intervention.

Turner — who is originally from Lawn  — made headlines in the late 1990s when he was accused of murdering retired school teacher Rose Haley.

The 54-year-old’s body was discovered Dec. 16, 1997, in the bathroom of her home after three men noticed smoke coming from the house and called the fire department.

The cause of the fire was found to be faulty wiring, but the province’s chief medical examiner concluded Haley had been strangled and had received at least three blows to her head and face.

The RCMP charged Turner with first-degree murder in March 1998. Turner, 19 at the time, was committed to stand trial for second-degree murder. However, DNA evidence presented during the trial was inconclusive.

Kennedy represented Turner in that case as well. According to media reports at that time, Kennedy questioned technicians from the RCMP lab and discovered that the technician who had tested Turner’s ring had also been working on the victim’s fingernails a few inches away, creating a strong likelihood of evidence contamination.

The technician also admitted she had mistakenly contaminated Turner’s ring with her own DNA.

Turner was found not guilty by a jury in March 2001.