A man who was charged earlier this year after he punched and kicked a woman, leaving her naked and injured in a downtown St. John’s street, was sentenced Friday in provincial court to time served in prison.
Blaine Edwin West has credit for 5 ½ months in custody, having been arrested three times since May on a variety of charges, including criminal harassment, assault causing bodily harm, impaired driving, driving with a suspended licence and breaches of court orders.
The court heard the woman had been under court orders to have no contact with West, her ex-boyfriend, due to an incident in February in which she was alleged to have assaulted and stolen from him. The woman, 36, called police one night in May to report West had been attempting to contact her by phone, email, letters and packages, and had just shown up at her house. She told police she was not allowed to have any contact with him and hadn’t responded to the attempts, and said she was afraid his behaviour would get worse.
Man suspected of confining, assaulting woman now in custody
An RNC officer spoke to West on the phone, and West told the officer that she was a “f---ing idiot” and didn’t know how to do her job. After he left two more voicemails for his ex-girlfriend, he was charged with criminal harassment. West spent a night in the lockup, appeared before a judge and was released until his next court date.
A few weeks later, West went to the downtown hotel where the woman was working, and they went together to his home on Springdale Street. While there, West kicked the woman in the face, punched her, threw her to the floor and ripped her clothes. She ran outside wearing just a T-shirt, and a neighbour threw her a blanket from an open window, telling her help was on the way.
The woman was taken to hospital with lumps on her forehead and eye, bruises on her neck, cuts, abrasions and a gash on her chin that required five stitches. West was arrested later that day and spent more than a month in jail before being released on bail. The woman was charged with breaching court orders not to have contact with West.
On Oct. 27, West was arrested after crashing a van in Portugal Cove-St. Phillips, landing it in a ditch. Police reported West was visibly drunk, and was found to be over the legal blood alcohol limit. He was taken into custody and remained there until Friday.
The Crown was looking for a six-month jail term followed by 18 months of supervised probation, along with an order to submit a DNA sample and be subject to a firearm ban. Despite a letter from the woman asking the court not to impose a no-contact order between herself and West, the Crown suggested one.
The defence asked for a total sentence of between four and five months, noting West had no previous criminal record and had pleaded guilty.
West, 43, addressed Judge David Orr directly, saying he regretted his actions, and 2017 has been a “horrible year.” He said he has diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, and had been withdrawing from a crack cocaine addiction at the time he attacked his ex-girlfriend. His doctor had given him a new medication the previous week, he said, and the combination of those pills and alcohol had led him to act abnormally.
When it came to the drunk driving, West said he had no memory of it. He had been having panic attacks, he said, and a friend had given him some Clonazepam. When he combined it with alcohol, he blacked out, he said.
West told the court he has overcome his addiction and anger-management issues.
“I do need help with PTSD, but I don’t know how to do that,” he said. “I just want counselling. I feel horrible about all this, especially what happened June 6. It’s not in my character to be like that. The anger part is gone, but I still have some mental-health issues that need to be dealt with.”
The judge noted the woman’s injuries were significant, and that the June incident was “more than a minor assault.” He sentenced West to time served and 18 months of probation, telling him that he would have to receive counselling for domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and anger management if his probation officer deemed it necessary. Orr ordered West to submit a DNA sample, banned him from possessing firearms for five years and gave him a one-year driving ban.
Given the woman wanted contact with West, Orr also gave West a no-contact order unless the woman initiated the contact, but told West he can’t be around his ex-girlfriend if he has been drinking.