They were in the courtroom for the same reason, but had never met before Thursday.
“Hi, I’m Lindsay,” said one of the women, Lindsay Plank, turning around to extend an outstretched hand to the woman sitting in the row behind her.
“Hi,” the other woman said, as they shared a tight smile.
Their connection was their ex-boyfriend, Kevin Terry Evans, who appeared in the courtroom via video from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary. They had each met him over the past couple of years.
The two women were disappointed Evans was attending the court hearing by video. They wanted him in the courtroom, where they could look him in the eye as he was sentenced for assaulting them multiple times. They wanted him to be in the room as the judge heard how he had punched, kicked, grabbed, thrown, pinned down, belittled and manipulated them, leaving them with physical and emotional injuries.
Evans, 29, held a small copy of the New Testament and grasped a cross necklace around his neck at points during the hearing, looking upward. He acknowledged he had violently abused the women, telling Judge Mike Madden he was willingly changing his pleas from not guilty to guilty and admitting the details presented to the court by the Crown were accurate.
Plank first spoke to The Telegram last year, explaining she met Evans in her native Ontario in 2018 through an online dating site. After he returned to his hometown of St. John’s for a family emergency that summer, Plank came for emotional support. The couple moved here that fall.
The court heard Evans assaulted her during her initial visit to St. John’s, growing upset during a night out on George Street over a message he had seen on her phone. He accused her of cheating, grabbed her arms and her face, and threw her against a wall, calling her a whore.
Weeks later, they argued in the car one night and he punched her in the jaw with a closed fist, knocking her head against the window. Later, he “went to town” on her ribs. On another occasion, he smacked her head against a brick fireplace, knocking her unconscious.
Evans was jealous and controlling, the court heard, often accusing Plank of cheating, and going through her phone. Plank devised a plan with the neighbour who lived in the apartment below the one she shared with Evans: if the neighbour heard Plank stomp her foot on the floor, she would text her to see if everything was OK, and call police if she didn’t hear back.
Evans sometimes slept with a knife next to him, the court heard, and told Plank he could kill someone and get away with it.
Plank’s boss later told police she often noticed Plank with bruises on her arms and neck.
Evans was charged in April 2019 with multiple assaults and two attempts to choke Plank, and was released to await a court date.
It wasn’t long, however, before he was in custody, arrested on a warrant from Ontario for a dozen charges related to assaulting, choking, threatening and sexually assaulting a woman – another ex-girlfriend – there before he had met Plank, as well as distributing an intimate image of another woman.
The ex-girlfriend, who also met Evans on a dating site, told The Telegram a similar story of violent abuse, manipulation and jealousy. Evans appeared charming and personable until he became angry and violent, she said.
The woman’s identity is banned from publication as those charges make their way through the court in Ontario.
Evans was released on bail and permitted to return to St. John’s to await his next court date. Three months later, he was back in custody with new charges involving another woman.
She watched Evans’ face on the TV screen Thursday as the details of his attacks were read to the court.
The woman had called police last August to report Evans, her boyfriend, had assaulted her. The couple had been lying in bed when he accused her of cheating on him, grew angry and got on top of her, pinning her to the bed by putting his knee on her throat. He apologized, she told police, as she laid in the fetal position, crying.
The next day he texted her and apologized again, asking to meet. The couple went for a drive, and his accusations resumed. He told her that he had cheated on her and gave her details about sex with another woman, before pouring a drink on her and punching her. Over the course of the same weekend, he grabbed her by the hair, kicked her, choked her and poked his fingers in her ribs and eyes.
She went to the hospital, and Evans was arrested. He was denied bail and has been in custody ever since.
Prosecutor Jacqueline MacMillan and defence lawyer Candace Summers presented a joint sentencing submission for time served, amounting to 253 days behind bars, with enhanced jail credit.
MacMillan argued for an order that Evans wear an electronic monitoring bracelet for a period of time upon his release and asked the judge to compel Evans to provide a DNA sample for a DNA database.
Summers argued against the bracelet, saying it was unnecessary, and said the DNA sample would amount to a breach of Evans’ privacy, given he is a first-time offender.
Summers told the court Evans had suffered a difficult childhood, having been removed from alcoholic parents and adopted. He may have fetal alcohol syndrome, though he hasn’t been diagnosed, she said, and hasn’t taken medication for ADHD since he was in high school. She said Evans hopes to see a doctor to address both issues.
Summers said Evans is remorseful and believes substance abuse issues played a role in his crimes against the two women. He has tried to keep busy in custody, she said, completing various programs.
Both complainants shook their heads as Summers told the court Evans has turned “back to his faith,” participating in Bible studies and church services while in prison.
Madden accepted the joint submission and released Evans with a sentence of jail time served. He gave him an 18-month period of probation with conditions that he participate in counselling for drug and alcohol abuse, addictions, anger management and domestic violence.
“This is probably the most important part of your sentence, Mr. Evans,” the judge said.
“No man has the right to tell a woman what clothes she can wear. No man has the right to search his partner’s telephone to see if she’s being unfaithful. And certainly, no man has the right to subject his partner to violence. In fact, far from it being right, it’s a criminal offence.” — Judge Mike Madden
Madden ordered Evans to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, if deemed appropriate by his probation officer, for the next six months, and ordered him to have no contact and to stay away from Plank and the other woman. He also ordered him to provide a DNA sample. The goal, the judge said, is to deter Evans from reoffending and to protect his potential future partners.
“No man has the right to tell a woman who she can talk to,” the judge said sternly. “No man has the right to tell a woman what clothes she can wear. No man has the right to search his partner’s telephone to see if she’s being unfaithful. And certainly, no man has the right to subject his partner to violence. In fact, far from it being right, it’s a criminal offence.”
Outside the courtroom, Plank told The Telegram it was satisfying to hear Evans say the word “guilty.”
“Knowing that he knows he’s caught now, that’s enough that I need to hear,” she said.
Listening to the details of Evans’ abuse after more than a year gave her a “throw-up feeling,” she admitted, though she didn’t regret being in the courtroom.
Plank said she felt uneasy about Evans being free.
“I would like to think that he’s not stupid enough to do something, but again, he’s very unpredictable,” she said. “It definitely leaves me walking on eggshells.”
The other woman said she was pleased with the court outcome, even though it essentially forced her to accept an apology Evans did not personally give.
“He can no longer say he didn’t do it. He’s been charged and convicted,” she told The Telegram, saying she was happy he took responsibility for some of his actions. “Today I can breathe a little easier, move forward with my life and my healing, and I wish strength and healing to the other women involved. My heart truly goes out to them. We are not victims, we are survivors and we are warriors.”
In Ontario, Evans’ ex-girlfriend is anxiously awaiting his next appearance on the charges of abusing her, which is set to happen next month. She praised the two local women, also calling them warriors.
“They were in danger. They could have run away. They could have kept silent like so many do. But they fought, not just for themselves but for all survivors and victims of abuse. I love them so much.”