By Lethbridge Herald on September 26, 2020.
Moving from his home in Kenya and leaving family so he could attend college in Lethbridge may have been too much of a culture shock for a 20-year-old man who threatened to kill a woman and the unborn child he thought she was carrying.
Emmanuel Kimaru Songol had gotten into an argument with an acquaintance’s girlfriend last April when he entered her house, confronted her in the bathroom, and threatened to kill her and the baby.
Songol was charged with resisting arrest, housebreaking to commit an offence, assault, choking and uttering threats to cause death, but Friday in Lethbridge provincial court he pleaded guilty to the threats charge and received a conditional discharge. The remaining charges were withdrawn.
Crown Prosecutor Clayton Giles told court Songol believed the woman was pregnant with someone else’s child — not her boyfriend — and said “he would need to kill them both.”
The woman was not pregnant at the time, defence pointed out.
Giles said Songol was assessed and diagnosed to be suffering from a mental disorder at the time, but not to the extent which would excuse him from criminal responsibility.
Lethbridge lawyer Darcy Shurtz explained the doctor who examined Songol believes the man suffered from some form of psychosis, possibly caused by the combination of marijuana use and the trauma of leaving his home and family. He has since been prescribed medication and is doing well.
“He is extremely remorseful for his actions that day,” Shurtz said, adding his client doesn’t know how he got inside the woman’s home.
Court was told Songol did not have any mental health issues before he was suddenly struck with the psychosis.
The Crown and defence agreed a conditional sentence would be a suitable resolution because it would not give Songol a criminal record, or possibly result in his deportation.
Under a conditional sentence an offender is not sentenced unless another offence is committed within a stated period. Once that time has elapsed the conviction may be removed from the defendant’s record.
Although the Crown and defence jointly recommended the sentence, Judge Bruce Fraser questioned whether it was suitable. He said while the sentence under these circumstances might not be contrary to the public interest, he’s not sure the victim would agree.
Fraser finally acceded to the joint submission, but added it is “against my better judgment.”
Songol will be on probation for one year, during which he must, among other conditions, behave himself, receive treatment and counselling for psychological and psychiatric issues, and avoid contact with the woman he threatened.
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