It is a lower range of sentence for such crimes, according to the judge who imposed it, but far higher than the time served his lawyer, Keir O’Flaherty, sought. The judge did give credit for time served beyond what he would have served for having his parole revoked, reducing the sentence by seven and a half months.
Wheeler, 29, has been in custody since turning himself in days after the police publicly revealed their search for him in relation to a stabbing at a residence on Beothuk Crescent Nov. 28, 2010. At the time, he was released on parole for a sentence in relation to an armed robbery in Ontario.
Friday, provincial court Judge Wayne Gorman sentenced Wheeler to 18 months imprisonment for assault with a weapon and four years in jail for aggravated assault. The sentence is to be served concurrently and reduced by the time served, leaving 40 and a half months.
Gorman said it was a lower range of sentence, stating an aggravated assault has a range between a year and 10 years, while the same offence with the use of a knife usually garners a jail term between three and six years. Crown attorney Lori St. Croix had asked for a total sentence between four and a half years and five and a half years.
A male victim was stabbed and punched in the face by Wheeler, acts which caused lacerations requiring stitches. He also nearly stabbed a female in the face. During the sentencing, the judge said it would not be dramatic to say he could have killed someone.
During the lengthy trial, Wheeler denied intentionally cutting the male victim. His defence centred around an entire different version of events, a scheme by the victims to frame him for a crime, and that he came to the defence of the female who was being held at knifepoint by the male. Gorman did not believe this, finding him guilty of the crimes as set out by the Crown.
During the sentencing hearing, O’Flaherty argued the violent actions of Wheeler on Nov. 28 was the result of the effects of an overprescribed dosage of Ritalin — or at least that his responsibility was significantly reduced as a result.
In his written decision, the judge said, “there was no evidence at the trial to suggest that Mr. Wheeler imagined the scene he described occurring in the bedroom between (the victims) when he arrived at the bedroom door with two knives in his hands. The evidence at the trial did not suggest that he stabbed (the male) because of any psychosis or other medical or psychiatric condition. Mr. Wheeler’s evidence at the trial refutes any suggestion to the contrary.”
Gorman said this does not mean the evidence concerning Ritalin is irrelevant. He was satisfied Wheeler’s level of anxiety and hypersensitivity may have been raised and it may have negatively impacted his decision-making process and ability to concentrate. However, he rejects the proposition that, without the overprescribed dosage of Ritalin, the offence would not have occurred.
Gorman said he agreed with the Ontario court judge who sentenced Wheeler in the armed robbery offence, that Wheeler is intelligent and well-spoken. The judge said his criminal record is lengthy, but not long in terms of violent crimes.
As did the judge on the previous sentence, Gorman said he believes there are prospects of rehabilitation, although it “may be dim,” he said. He told Wheeler he hopes he can still turn things around, which is the reason he imposed the lower range of sentence.