3 more years for high-risk offender

A Chilliwack man who attacked a woman he had just met with a kitchen knife was sentenced to three more years of jail Friday.

Judge Kenneth Skilnick said the sentence-which included one year of time served-reflected the need to protect the public from Shaun Michael Thorpe, who was labelled by a psychologist to present a "high level of risk for violent behaviour."

Thorpe, now 24, "seemed like a real nice kid" to his victim when the pair met on a downtown Chilliwack street in the evening of May 5, 2012.

Thorpe invited the woman over to his house to share a beer that evening. But after a couple of drinks, he suddenly shoved his new acquaintance into a garden shed, held a knife to her throat and asked: "Do you want me to slit your throat right now?"

The woman grabbed a cellphone and clubbed Thorpe in the face to stun him and facilitate her escape. The victim sustained a variety of knife cuts to her neck, hands and face in the attack.

Thorpe was convicted of aggravated assault and uttering threats in March after a trial at which he claimed the woman had, in fact, attacked him with a knife. But Skilnick didn't believe Thorpe's testimony, noting that the woman had sustained defensive knife cuts to her hands.

In handing down his sentence, Skilnick noted that "in addition to the physical harm, the psychological harm that the victim must have been faced with should not be minimized or glossed over."

Thorpe's defence counsel, Evilasio Dos Santos, asked for a sentence of

time served and probation. Crown counsel Henry Waldock said Thorpe's unresolved addictions issues posed a danger to the public that demanded three more years of incarceration. Thorpe had been in jail following his arrest last May.

Waldock noted the attack-bad as it was-could have been much worse, especially given a hole in the victim's clothing that appeared to indicate an attempt to stab her in the torso.

Thorpe has a substantial record, including past convictions for uttering threats. He told the writer of a pre-sentence report that he was drinking between 30 and 40 beers per day at the time of the attack.

Dos Santos said his client was not normally violent and that probation would give Thorpe the best chance at rehabilitation.

"This young man has potential," Dos Santos said. "He has a future ahead of himself."

But Waldock noted the attack occurred while Thorpe was on probation for a previous offence, and that he was prohibited from drinking under the terms of that probation.

Wolbeck also said Thorpe, when quarrelling with his girlfriend, would frequently talk about stabbing her.

The judge agreed with Waldock's argument and said he was loathe to place Thorpe back into the community.

"We don't fully understand the reasons for this level of violence," Skilnick noted. That was worrying, the judge said, as was Thorpe's untreated addiction issues.

Skilnick said that the "major project" of rehabilitating Thorpe was one best undertaken in the federal prison system and not in the community.

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