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Jail time for Corner Brook man who breached no-contact order by yelling vulgar statement

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Judge hands down sentence that is longer than what the crown prosecutor was seeking

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

A Corner Brook man has been sentenced to four months in prison and a year of probation for breaching court orders by yelling what the judge described as a vulgar comment at his ex-girlfriend.

Sean Elliott Young, 33, made the statement on Oct. 29, 2018 by calling out to the woman as she was outside her residence. Earlier in the day, he had appeared in court on a charge of assaulting her (for which he was later convicted).

At the time, Young had been bound by two court orders to have no contact with the woman and an order to be of good behaviour. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, but was convicted after a trial.


“Mr. Young had contact with (the victim) despite two court orders prohibiting him from doing so. The contact was of a rude and demeaning nature. Mr. Young openly defied the court’s orders." — Judge Wayne Gorman


Provincial court Judge Wayne Gorman sentenced Young last week, rejecting defence lawyer Ellen O’Gorman’s suggestion of house arrest and going beyond prosecutor Lori-Lee St. Croix’s suggestion of 90 days in jail.

“Mr. Young had contact with (the woman) despite two court orders prohibiting him from doing so. The contact was of a rude and demeaning nature. Mr. Young openly defied the court’s orders. The nature of the relationship that had existed between (the woman) and Mr. Young is a significant aggravating factor,” Gorman wrote in his decision, saying it required him to impose a sentence that would deter other like-minded people.

“Of particular concern in this case is Mr. Young’s history of violence toward intimate partners and his history of ignoring court orders designed to protect them from him. He has assaulted (the woman) and ignored two court orders prohibiting him from having contact with her.”

A pre-sentence report noted Young has had multiple relationships that included conflict and convictions for assaultive and threatening behaviour, and that he has issues with substance abuse. The report indicated Young has been actively involved in treatment over the past year and has been engaged in anger-management counselling, making progress in both areas.

Gorman said Young’s criminal record consists of nine previous convictions, including convictions for sexual interference, assaults, uttering threats and breaches of court orders. The judge noted there were children present or nearby in both assault cases.

In handing down his sentence, Gorman referenced words he wrote in a sentencing decision earlier this month for another man convicted of breaching a no-contact order. In that case, Gorman had given Ryan Costello — age 23 with no prior criminal convictions — a conditional discharge and a year of probation, after Costello had pleaded guilty to having contact with his ex-girlfriend while he was banned from doing so. She had called out to him with an insult as he drove by her on the street. He stopped his vehicle and called insults back.

“Breaches of no-contact orders in intimate relationship cases often involve an attempt by the offender to exert control and to intimidate their former partner, despite the court order having sought to end such behaviour,” Gorman said when he sentenced Costello, and repeated in sentencing Young. “Such contact forms part of what is often an ongoing and deliberate campaign of psychological and physical violence designed to satisfy the offender’s need to control his former intimate partner. This type of contact is often designed to intimidate and frighten the victim. The offender often wishes to illustrate to his former intimate partner that she is not safe from him, despite the court order.

“A victim who is contacted by a former abusive partner, who has been ordered not to have contact with her, immediately knows that the court order is meaningless to the offender and will not protect her. This is one of the reasons why these types of offences must be seen as constituting serious criminal activity even when the contact is not overtly violent or threatening.”

Gorman has long been calling for a more efficient approach in protecting victims of intimate-partner violence and has suggested the courts might consider implementing lifetime no-contact orders in cases of domestic violence.

Michelle Greene, executive director of Iris Kirby House in St. John’s, told The Telegram last month she hopes Gorman’s words will be heeded by others in the justice system.

No-contact orders aren’t enough to deter an abusive partner or to quell a victim’s fears, she said.

“There has to be more than a no-contact order, or all they’ll end up with is a breach,” Greene said. “It’s almost a paper game. A breach is nothing to the abuser, but to the woman, oh my God, it’s huge.”

@tara_bradbury


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