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Corner Brook man is responsible for his own violence: judge

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Thomas Terry Tucker, 20, handed 90-day jail sentence to be served intermittently, followed by two years of probation

CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

Judge Wayne Gorman made his words clear: "Violence by a male partner against a female partner does not occur because of the nature of the relationship. It occurs primarily because of the need of some men to try and control their female partners."

The Corner Brook provincial court judge delivered a lengthy sentencing decision last week in the case of 20-year-old Thomas Terry Tucker, convicted of three charges of assault and one charge of threats against his former girlfriend. Gorman spent much time denouncing domestic violence, quashing excuses for it, and noting the dangerous effects it has on individual victims and society in general.

"It is important for sentencing judges, in considering context in intimate violence cases, not to overemphasize such explanations as anger, loss of control, jealousy, alcohol or drug impairment as mitigating factors," Gorman said.

It diverts attention from the real issue: the offender's responsibility for the violence and his own behaviour, he explained.

Gorman then handed Tucker a 90-day jail sentence to be served intermittently, followed by two years of probation. It's less than Tucker should get, the judge said, but is the best option when it comes to protecting the victim, deterring Tucker and like-minded members of the public, and allowing Tucker to continue with counselling and his education in an effort to rehabilitate.

"It is important for sentencing judges, in considering context in intimate violence cases, not to overemphasize such explanations as anger, loss of control, jealousy, alcohol or drug impairment as mitigating factors." — Judge Wayne Gorman

Tucker assaulted the woman in February of last year by grabbing her hair, slapping her face and pushing her to a bed, where he got on top of her. He placed his hand over her mouth and told the woman he didn't care if he killed her, after she accidentally called him by the name of an ex-boyfriend. Gorman rejected Tucker's argument that he had acted in self-defence.

A month after that assault, the woman was visiting Tucker in his residence room at Memorial University in Corner Brook when they began to argue. When the woman tried to leave, Tucker grabbed her, pushed her into a dresser and onto the bed, getting on top of her and pushing her head into the headboard.

That same month, the pair had an argument in Tucker's vehicle. Tucker pulled into a parking lot and the woman decided to get out of the vehicle to walk home. Tucker grabbed her by her hair, pulling some of it out in the process. The judge rejected Tucker's defence that he had grabbed the woman's hair by accident.

Tucker threatened the woman around the same time over the phone in a call she recorded. When she attempted to arrange a time to come and get her belongings from his residence room, he told her that he would "pummel the shit" out of her. He had only hit her previously to get her to "shut the f--- up," he told her.

"The few f---ing love taps I gave you because you f---ing deserved them was f--- all, man. You're going to see when you're laying in a goddamn pool of blood with your stuff," Tucker was heard saying during the call. "I only wish I could have f---ing hit you more honestly."

Tucker then told the woman he had intimate photos of her and was going to "send that to a few people now."

The woman provided a victim impact statement to the court, which Gorman included in its entirety in his sentencing decision. She spoke of detaching herself from life, feeling unsafe and experiencing night terrors, and having difficulty distinguishing between dreams and reality. She said she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of Tucker's abuse. She's still afraid to cross paths with him, she said.

"What I went through was hatred, not love." — Victim

"I thought I was in love, but love is not manipulation. Love is not being beat down verbally and physically," the woman wrote. "What I went through was hatred, not love."

Tucker, the judge noted, still does not understand that he is not the victim in his situation. He refers to himself and the woman as having "issues" and their relationship being "unhealthy" — demeaning phrases that put blame on a victim, Gorman said.

"Whatever alleged 'issues' Ms. X might have had, if any, she did not resort to violence, though she was involved in the same purportedly 'unhealthy' relationship," the judge said.

The Crown argued for a six-month jail sentence and two years of probation for Tucker, acknowledging that while he is young and has no criminal record, his crimes are serious.

Tucker's lawyer argued for 45 days of house arrest and probation, noting Tucker had sought counselling and has good prospects for rehabilitation.

Gorman decided a five-month jail sentence was appropriate for Tucker, given the ongoing nature of his abuse, the degree of violence involved and previous sentences imposed in other similar cases, but reduced that to 90 days so Tucker can serve it intermittently.

An intermittent sentence can only be applied in cases of jail terms of 90 days or less, and Gorman said he felt it was the most appropriate option.

"I recognize that a period of 90 days is less than what should be imposed, but I am satisfied that in the circumstances of this case, it is the appropriate sentence," he said.

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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