Corner Brook teen’s struggle with bullying played role in stabbing


Published on May 18, 2017

Court

©africa-studio.com (Olga Chernetska and Leonid Yastremskiy)

It was an incident that most who know her, agree was totally out of character.

Yet it's one that has had a profound impact on a Corner Brook girl’s life.

On June 9, 2016 the only things the then Level 3 student at Corner Brook Regional High should have been dealing with were her upcoming exams and getting ready for graduation.

But on that day the bullying that had followed her throughout her teen years, causing her stress and anxiety, came to a head in the parking lot of the Corner Brook Civic Centre.

A younger, 16-year-old girl started calling her names and the girl challenged her to a physical confrontation. At one point the younger girl pushed her up against a car. She then took a knife out of her pants and stabbed the 16-year-old in the neck.

The incident was caught on video and widely circulated on social media.

The girl left the area in a car and went home. There she called police and confessed to the stabbing. Police went to her home and she produced the green-handled folded pocketknife used in the attack.

She was arrested and subsequently charged with carrying a concealed weapon, assault with a weapon and aggravated assault.

Her victim was treated at hospital for a superficial wound about two-three inches in length.

On Thursday the now 18-year-old pled guilty to the assault with a weapon charge in provincial court and was sentenced to two-years probation. The other charges were withdrawn upon Judge Kymil Howe’s finding of guilt.

The girl’s identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Her issues with bullying were highlighted in the submissions on sentencing by both Crown attorney Alana Dwyer and her lawyer, Jodi MacDonald.

Dwyer pointed to a previous conviction and how it was unfortunate she was not able to get help then to deal with the impact the bullying had on her. She said her coping mechanisms were not yet developed when the incident occurred.

Dwyer also said while the stabbing did not result in serious bodily harm, the spur of the moment action was still a serious offence.

She suggested a period of two-four months deferred custody because the action was not planned or premeditated, followed by 18 months probation. Such a sentence, she said, could focus on rehabilitation.

MacDonald suggested a sentence of probation, saying the girl’s pre-sentence report was positive and that she had positive family support. This was evident in the fact her grandmother sat with her in court, holding her and comforting her.

MacDonald noted the girl has spent the last year living under some strict conditions. She was able to complete her high school education through the College of the North Atlantic, works two jobs and has plans to continue her education and volunteer in the community.

When given an opportunity to speak, the girl said she was sorry and had remorse for her actions.

She said she lost out on a lot over the last year.

Her grandmother told the court she thinks her granddaughter has learned her lesson and was focused on what she needed to do.

“She will be watched and guided in the right direction,” she said.

When it came time to decide the girl’s fate, Howe said she took into account the things she heard, including comments by a youth court worker.

She said the girl she had performed well over the past year and was satisfied a custodial sentence was not the best option to promote reform.

And she told the girl that the “sad reality” is she’ll meet a lot of people in life who are not nice.

She told her to keep up the good thoughts she has and if she keeps focused she may influence somebody else to become a good person.

As part of her probation order the girl is not permitted to carry a knife on her person or concealed in any way and must stay away from her victim, her family or caregivers. She also has to attend any awareness, education or counseling sessions she is referred to by her youth worker and was cautioned that she can’t pick and choose what to attend and so must participate.

The girl will be subject to a DNA order and a two-year firearms prohibition.

Howe wished her luck before she left the court and the girl’s grandmother thanked the judge for her decision.

“I’ll keep an eye on her,” she said as she left the courtroom.

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