A former Halifax university student has been given a three-year suspended sentence on charges of break and enter and assault.

Charles Edward John Barrons pleaded guilty to the charges midway through his trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court last February. Other charges, including sexual assault and uttering death threats, were dismissed.

The charges stem from an incident on the night of Sept. 11, 2014.

Barrons broke into ex's apartment

According to an agreed statement of facts read into the record at Thursday's sentencing, Barrons spotted a former girlfriend with a man at a downtown Halifax bar. 

When the two left the bar, Barrons went to the woman's apartment where he smashed in the door and forced his way into a bedroom.

His ex and the man were inside the room. Barrons scuffled with the man, who managed to escape and went looking for help.

Even though the sexual assault charge was dropped, the judge extended the publication ban protecting the woman's identity.

Due to start law school

The Crown had been asking for a two-year prison term, followed by two years probation.

Barrons's lawyer, Stan MacDonald, said any prison term would cost his client his future as he's enrolled to start law school in Ottawa beginning next month.

In adopting MacDonald's recommendation for a suspended sentence, Justice Josh Arnold of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court told Barrons that if he fails to abide by the conditions of his sentence, he will be back in court and facing the prospect of prison time.

Barrons was ordered to abide by a curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., complete 200 hours of community service and give at least two public speeches a year on violence against women and his experience with the criminal justice system.

MacDonald told the court that his client has been taking counselling since the incident and has abstained from alcohol. His sentence also includes a prohibition on drinking alcohol and taking drugs, as well as a weapons ban and a requirement that his DNA be put in a national data bank.

Victim impact statement

The woman submitted a victim impact statement that was read into the record by Crown prosecutor Christine Driscoll.

"For years I have had the light taken out of my life and I no longer recognized the person I see in the mirror every day," the woman wrote.

"I was ashamed of who I was because of how powerless I felt."

The woman said she dropped out of university as a result of the incident and suffered from panic attacks and flashbacks. She wrote that she "became startled easily and rarely wanted to leave my bedroom."

Defence questions claims

MacDonald disputed many of the woman's claims in her statement and questioned its relevance at the sentencing.

He introduced images from the woman's Instagram account, which he said refutes her claims of avoiding people and feeling anxiety.

Barrons must return to court every six months during his sentence so that Arnold can assess his progress.

"You have a glowing future ahead of you should you take advantage of this," the judge told Barrons.