By Shurtz, Delon on May 23, 2020.
A Claresholm man who broke into a home last year, then confined and terrorized two women while he threatened to kill them, has been sent to a federal penitentiary.
Seth Patrick Bunyan was sentenced to six years in prison after he pleaded guilty Friday in Lethbridge provincial court to charges of housebreaking/commit assault with a weapon, unlawful confinement, robbery and uttering threats to cause death.
At about midnight June 27, Bunyan, 29, walked into his former girlfriend’s Claresholm residence, grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and proceeded to the basement. He was met on the stairs by his ex-girlfriend who had heard someone enter the home and was going to see who it was.
“She heard him say he was going to kill her and her friend,” Crown prosecutor Michael Fox told court.
The woman yelled to her friend to call 911, but before she could press the dial button Bunyan rushed at her and told both women to give him their phones.
Bunyan told the friend he was going to kill her and, while still holding the knife, pushed her onto the bed and got on top of her. Both women were hitting and scratching him, and his ex-girlfriend finally convinced him to get off her friend by telling Bunyan she would talk to him about their relationship.
He also allowed the friend to leave, but he kept her cellphone. She ran from the house and went to a neighbour’s home where she called 911.
Meanwhile, the ex-girlfriend managed to steal back her own phone without Bunyan knowing it, and convinced him to go upstairs with her to talk.
“As they went upstairs, the accused grabbed (her) dog…and held the knife to its throat telling (her) that he would kill her cats, her dog and everyone she loved,” Fox said. “He also made a point of telling her that he knew where her mother lived.”
Fox said neither the terrified woman nor Bunyan knew that somehow the dial button on the other woman’s phone had accidently been pressed and the operator listening to the voices had forwarded the call to the RCMP.
The woman attempted to call 911 on her phone, and was finally able to give the operator her address and let her know what was happening. Bunyan suspected the RCMP might have been alerted and demanded the woman call the RCMP and tell them everything was fine. He told her if the police arrived she was to tell them to leave.
“He stated that if he was arrested, upon his release he would come back and hurt her mother and the neighbours that she cares about, just to get back at her.”
Despite his aggressive behaviour and threats, after the RCMP arrived the woman was able to let them into her house and Bunyan was arrested without incident.
Fox said the woman sustained multiple bruises on her left arm and shoulder, and her friend had bruises on her torso, and cuts on her hand and chest.
Both women indicated in victim impact statements they fear being alone, going outdoors and even sleeping. And Fox pointed out they still suffer from significant emotional trauma, and the ex-girlfriend suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, and repeatedly checks that her doors are locked at night, even though she’s checked them several times.
Calgary lawyer Shaun Leochko, who agreed with the recommendation for a six-year prison sentence, said Bunyan, who was drinking that night, has a borderline personality disorder, which manifests itself through impulsive behaviour, suicidal thoughts and inappropriate anger.
Leochko said Bunyan will need to address those issues, and he hopes to receive counselling while he is in prison.
Judge Sylvia Oishi agreed with the joint recommendation and acknowledged that Bunyan’s guilty pleas and mental health issues are mitigating factors, But she stressed the need for denunciation and deterrence, and said Bunyan terrorized the women and threatened to kill them while holding a knife.
In addition to the prison term, for which he was given credit for nearly 17 months spent in pre-trial custody, Bunyan must submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank. He is also prohibited from possessing certain weapons for 10 years and others for life, and he is prohibited from contacting the two women and their mothers while he is in prison.
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