A Vancouver Islander who beat a quadriplegic man with a shovel while the victim's daughter played in the next room has been sentenced to 2.5 more years in prison and ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution.
The March 7, 2014 attack left the victim, already in a wheelchair, with a traumatic brain injury, complex facial fractures, a broken jaw and severe injuries to his eyes.
The identities of both the victim and his attacker are protected in court documents.
"Mr. D.'s crime is horrifying. There is a compelling public interest in a sentence which provides an appropriate measure of denunciation and deterrence," provincial court Judge Ted Gouge wrote in a judgment earlier this month.
The judge's sentence for the aggravated assault called for five years in prison, but the assailant was given credit for 851 days already served — leaving him with 975 days behind bars.
Victim knew his attacker
The victim, known as A. in court documents, suffers from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that targets the nervous system. He could feed himself but was unable to stand or walk, the judgment says.
At the time of the attack, he was in the midst of a divorce and was caring for his nine-year-old daughter at their home in Qualicum Beach. Meanwhile, his ex-wife had been living with the man who would become his attacker, known as R.G.D. in court documents.
On the morning of the attack, the ex-wife told R.G.D. she was thinking of ending their relationship, according to the judgment. He threatened to hang himself, and later started sending her text messages that made her fear for A.'s safety.
She called A. to warn him and went so far as to phone 911, but that didn't prevent R.G.D. from entering A.'s home and pummelling his head with a shovel three times.
"The force of the blows was sufficient to cause a visible bend in the steel shaft of the shovel," Gouge wrote.
Daughter heard the attack
The victim's nine-year-old daughter was playing with a friend in her bedroom and heard everything, according to the judgment. She came out and saw her father bleeding profusely as he sat in his wheelchair.
The victim was airlifted to hospital and police arrested his attacker a few hours later in Port Alberni.
R.G.D. told police he had "maybe killed" A., and that he hoped the man was dead.
"The guy was a prick. I don't need a lawyer. I didn't expect to get this far," he told his interrogators.
According to court documents, R.G.D. said he thought A. had treated his ex-wife poorly during their divorce. R.G.D. also told police he was angry about an investment that A. had recommended, and had gone to his home to demand his $40,000 back.
In a victim impact statement, A. told told the court the attack had left him unable to care for his daughter, and now he doesn't even know where she is living.
He can no longer live on his own and now shares a room in a care facility with two other men.
"I've lost my ability to earn a living, and I need to feel I can contribute in some manner. I need to look forward to positive events. How do I occupy my time in a positive manner? I had a full and meaningful life before the assault," he said.
His social worker also testified that A. needs a new wheelchair but has no money to buy a replacement, valued at more than $15,000.
The $50,000 restitution order is intended to cover the cost of a new wheelchair as well as other financial losses suffered by the victim.
Unlike the damages won from a civil lawsuit, a restitution order in criminal court cannot be extinguished through bankruptcy.
The judge noted that including a restitution order meant reducing the attacker's prison sentence below what he would have otherwise imposed.