Corner Brook -
A man who was drinking while under medication to treat his mental illness when he slashed his longtime friend's face last summer has been sentenced to two years in jail.
Jason Peddle, 31, was sent to jail Wednesday, after pleading guilty to aggravated assault in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The sentence, which also includes three years of probation after Peddle is released from prison, was a joint submission from Crown attorney Adam Sparkes and defence counsel Jodi MacDonald which was accepted by Justice Alan Seaborn.
The maximum jail term for such a conviction is 14 years, but Seaborn accepted the recommended sentence at the lower range of the scale.
Peddle's previous criminal record consists mostly of property and drug offences and does not contain any convictions for any other offences involving violence. He had not been in trouble with the law since 2000.
It was shortly after he last did jail time that the Corner Brook native was diagnosed with schizophrenia and began to be treated for the condition.
Last Aug. 10, the court heard Wednesday, Peddle was at the residence of Robert Leggo when the two men who had been friends for 15 years became involved in a verbal altercation. The dispute started after a glass belonging to Leggo was broken by Peddle's girlfriend while she was doing the dishes.
The argument evolved into a physical altercation, but the two men separated of their own accord and Peddle left the house without there being any exchange of threats by either of them.
About five minutes later, Leggo left his residence to go to a downstairs apartment. While outside, he noticed Peddle's vehicle approaching. Peddle got out and confronted Leggo with a steak knife.
A physical altercation ensued, during which Peddle sliced the right side of Leggo's face from his ear to the corner of his mouth. The cut was about 10 centimetres in length.
Peddle fled the area in his vehicle. Leggo called friends for a ride to the hospital, rather than phone the police or an ambulance, and eventually was brought to Western Memorial Regional Hospital where he received medical treatment.
He reported the incident to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary the following day and Peddle was charged 10 days later.
Peddle confessed to police that he had assaulted his friend. He also told police he suffered from schizophrenia and was under the influence of alcohol when the incident took place.
Seaborn heard that Peddle has held down a steady job and is involved in a stable relationship with his girlfriend. The judge also heard, however, that Peddle has admitted to consuming too much alcohol in recent years and that drinking while taking medication for his mental illness had been a source of some troubles in his life.
MacDonald told Seaborn the attack on Leggo was likely the result of Peddle's inability to cope with his frustrations created from drinking while on medication.
Two cosmetic surgeries
As part of his probation, Peddle will not be permitted to consume alcohol and must undergo any counselling as recommended by his probation officer. He is also subject to a firearms prohibition for 20 years and must give a sample of his DNA to the proper authorities.
He will also not be permitted to have any contact with Leggo, who was in court Wednesday. In a victim impact statement provided to the court, Leggo - who has undergone two cosmetic surgeries and still bears a significant scar on his face - discussed the mental and physical effects the attacks had on him.
"When children, including my own, ask what happened, I feel that I cannot be fully honest with them because the truth is too harsh for them to hear," said Leggo in his statement. "I feel the truth will scar them and thus have a negative impact on them."
Leggo said there are still lots of unanswered questions about why his friend attacked him so brutally. He also expressed concern about what measures will be in place to protect him and his family since he went to the authorities for help.
"I wish I could understand, directly from the accused, why he initiated this act against me," said Leggo. "I feel sorry for the accused. I hope he learns from the judicial process and that no one else will have to endure a traumatic experience like what happened to me."