Justice Garrett Handrigan was hoping to hear something more from Dillon Bourgeois and Paxton Sheahan after they admitted their guilt in the aggravated assault of Jonathan Park.
The two 25-year-old men from Corner Brook had initially pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and aggravated assault, but the trial scheduled for this week was not needed when Bourgeois and Sheahan changed their pleas to guilty of the aggravated assault offences and the Crown withdrew the attempted murder charges.
In Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court on Thursday, Handrigan agreed with Crown prosecutor Alana Dwyer’s request for Bourgeois to be given five years and Sheahan given three years for their respective roles in the crime.
Handrigan did not convey his reasons for the sentences in open court Thursday, but his written decision on the case gives a glimpse into what he thought of the circumstances of the case.
Among the factors the judge had to consider in the sentencing process was the attitude of the offenders. Handrigan noted that, although the two pleaded guilty, they did so quite late in the process that began with their arrests in the days following the Oct. 29, 2015 assault.
More concerning for Handrigan was the fact neither Bourgeois nor Sheahan had anything to say when given the opportunity to address the court Wednesday. While their lawyers had indicated their guilty pleas were indications of remorse, Handrigan said he isn’t sure their remorse is authentic.
“If he is genuinely remorseful, he might have said so then, or apologized to Mr. Park,” the judge wrote in reference to Sheahan. “He did neither.”
Bourgeois, Sheahan and Park were known to one another at the time of the assault. Earlier in the night of the attack, Bourgeois and Park had gotten into a fight outside a nearby bar.
During the subsequent assault, Sheahan restrained Park while Bourgeois stabbed him 12 times. One, if not two, of those knife wounds came perilously close to being fatal.
In a victim impact statement provided to the court, Park indicated he continues to have physical and mental issues over the life-changing attack.
Handrigan noted both Bourgeois and Sheahan have troubling criminal records that include prior convictions for violent offences. He described Bourgeois as being heavily entrenched in a lifestyle that will lead to other criminal behaviour, and said Sheahan has been getting more seriously involved in criminal activity in the last several years and shows contempt for court orders.
“I am skeptical that either Paxton Sheahan or Dillon Bourgeois will rehabilitate themselves, although they are still young men and have time to change their lives,” Handrigan wrote.
Both Bourgeois and Sheahan were granted 1 1/2 days credit for each day they have served in the last two years prior to being sentenced. While that means Bourgeois has two more years to serve on his five-year sentence, Sheahan will have to serve another 5 ½ months on his, because he was convicted and sentenced for an unrelated assault with a weapon offence while in custody and won’t get credit for the time spent serving that sentence.
Bourgeois is not finished with the courts yet. While in custody one year ago, he was charged with an armed robbery of the Corner Brook Esso gas bar that happened in July 2015.
Park’s brother, Ashley Park, has already been convicted and sentenced to serve 3 ½ years in prison in relation to the same armed robbery.
Bourgeois is set to go to trial in Supreme Court on that charge in January.