Nova Scotia

Amherst man guilty of aggravated assault against ex-wife, her partner

An Amherst, N.S., man has been convicted of aggravated assault for a violent knife attack on his ex-wife's new boyfriend. David Alexander Baxter attacked Todd Smith on June 1, 2017.

David Alexander Baxter was charged with attempted murder, but convicted of lesser charge of aggravated assault

An Amherst, N.S., man has been convicted of aggravated assault for a violent knife attack on his ex-wife's new boyfriend.

David Alexander Baxter, then 41, attacked Todd Smith on June 1, 2017.

Baxter and Smith were neighbours. Baxter's former partner and the mother of his three children, Katie O'Neil, was living with the then 47-year-old Smith at the time of the attack.

Baxter maintained he had no problem with the relationship between Smith and O'Neil, but he felt his child support payments were subsidizing their lifestyle. When his payments went in arrears, the province started garnisheeing his wages as a correctional officer.

Smith testified at Baxter's trial that he felt the garnishee order was a flashpoint that led to the attack.

'Vicious and cowardly attack'

Smith also told court that O'Neil was not working at the time and Baxter felt she was just living off his support payments.

Smith said that on the day of the stabbing, Baxter told him he should demand O'Neil get a job. When Smith refused, he said that's when Baxter grabbed him by the hair and stabbed him, sending him to his knees.

Smith said Baxter stabbed him once in the back, once in the back of the neck, twice in the chest and again on his shoulder before O'Neil intervened. She was wounded in confronting her ex-husband and required 14 stitches to close a cut.

Smith said he also received defensive wounds to his hands. He suffered 24 wounds or cuts in all in what Justice Jeffrey Hunt described as a sneak attack and "a vicious and cowardly attack on a defenceless person."

Convicted on a lesser charge

In his testimony, Baxter said he felt threatened by Smith, whom he said advanced toward him that day. Baxter claimed to have no clear recollection of the stabbing and said he heard people screaming at him, but he had what he described as "tunnel vision" and could not see.

Baxter was charged with attempted murder, but Hunt said the Crown failed to prove that charge, so he was convicted of the lesser charge of aggravated assault. He was also convicted of assault causing bodily harm for attacking his ex-wife and guilty of a weapons offence for brandishing the knife.

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