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Judge hears submissions on “unprovoked, vicious” Clarenville stabbing

Sentencing decision to be made Wednesday, March 14

CLARENVILLE, NL— Crown attorney Danny Vavasour and defense lawyer Rhona Buchan made submissions before Judge Paul Noble in Clarenville provincial court March 7 regarding a violent stabbing that occurred at Hawthrone Manor in Clarenville on April 30, 2016, which Vavasour referred to as “unprovoked” and “vicious.”

Michael Norman, 44, was convicted on Thursday, Jan. 4 of stabbing another man six times – four times in the abdomen and twice on the left hand – in the parking lot of the Moore’s Road property.

Norman has two prior convictions of assault from 2010 and 1999 and convictions for impaired driving and breaches of probation.

Vavasour read from the victim impact statement, which claimed the stabbing worsened the victim’s mental health issues as he was unable to attend certain therapies; he was unable to do many things with his children; he suffered from nightmares, flashbacks and a lack of sleep; and he still experiences constant ongoing pain in his left side and numbness in three fingers on his left hand.

The statement also noted his current inability to work and the cost of transportation to medical appointments.

“What happened here was an unprovoked stabbing,” Vavasour summarized, referring to the stabbing as a “vicious assault” that left the victim in the hospital for eight days, six of which were in the intensive care unit.

Vavasour, as is common, noted several similar cases as precedent in terms of sentencing such as the recent sentencing of Jason King, a man found guilty of attempted murder for attacking his former partner with a box cutter at the Bay Robert’s Dollarama.

Similarities to that incident, for which King received six years in prison, included the violent nature of the assault, the public setting of the attack and the previous criminal history of the perpetrator.

Vavasour noted the court, during trial, had accepted the Crown’s evidence that there was no indication of a physical altercation, the attack was not an act of self-defense, Norman had been drinking all day, and there were no injuries consistent with a fist fight prior to the stabbing.

He noted no guilty plea was entered, and while this was not an aggravating factor in and of itself, when combined with a lack of remorse shown to the victim, Vavasour said this seemed to indicate an attitude that should be considered by the judge when making his decision. Vavasour noted there was no medical evidence – biological or psychiatric – of mental illness, although there was much evidence of alcohol consumption.

He noted as far as he was aware, Norman had not been participating in any classes or programs offered at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP), but also noted that in such a violent case, rehabilitation “takes a backseat” to separating criminals from the public.

Vavasour proposed five years’ imprisonment, a mandatory DNA order, mandatory weapons prohibition and $314 in restitution to replace the victim’s clothing, which was bled on during the stabbing.

Defense lawyer Rhona Buchan questioned whether the victim’s injuries were truly life lasting. She noted while the court did not accept Norman’s claim he had been provoked, a witness did claim the victim approached Norman, and Norman appeared to have a red mark on his forehead and hands, which Buchan noted may be defensive wounds.

She highlighted Norman’s extreme alcohol intake, his cooperation with the police in telling them where to find the knife used in the stabbing, and the injuries the victim suffered being non-life threating as mitigating factors.

She said there was an ongoing relationship between the victim and Norman and that the victim allegedly struck Norman two weeks prior to the stabbing.

Buchan also delved extensively into Norman’s personal history, noting he had a troubled childhood, a low literacy level, no employment and an ongoing alcohol problem.

“Addiction is definitely an issue here and something he has used to try and deal with trauma in his past,” she told the court.

Buchan noted because of the alleged bullying behavior of the victim, Norman was seeing this situation through the “lens of a child who was victimized.”

She noted that those who knew him personally never considered Norman a threat, saying he was kind and helpful and had not been offered the chance to partake in any classes or courses at HMP.

Buchan proposed three to four years prison time, along with the mandatory DNA and weapons prohibition orders.

Norman has currently served 99 days with remand credit at time and a half for his time spent in police custody, which will have increased by the time of his sentencing on March. 14

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