June 15th, 2024

Assault on senior results in six month sentence

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 15, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Assaulting a 65-year-old man in a fast-food restaurant has earned Steven Edward Kowalchuk a stint at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre.

Kowalchuk, 28, was sentenced to six months in jail after he pleaded guilty Friday in Lethbridge provincial court to charges of assault, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and failing to comply with probation.

On July 8 a man and his wife entered the westside restaurant when Kowalchuk, who was already there, became disruptive by banging on the table, speaking loudly and playing his music loudly.

The man, who was concerned Kowalchuk might be on drugs or in some “poor mental state,” asked him to turn down his music and stop banging the table. Kowalchuk challenged the man to a fight, and when the man declined the challenge, Kowalchuk put him in a headlock and began to wrestle with him until they were separated.

Once separated the older man angrily tried to retaliate but he was held back by his friends. Kowalchuk, however, managed to break free from the people holding him back, and he punched the other man in the face.

“While (the victim) was entirely unable to defend himself because he was being held back by his friends, Mr. Kowalchuk was able to strike (him) on the right cheek,” explained Crown Prosecutor Clayton Giles.

The man and his spouse left the restaurant, but were followed by Kowalchuk who brandished a couple of curved knives and said “you’ll get yours.”

Kowalchuk eventually put away the knives and walked in the direction of a nearby school but was arrested shortly afterward.

Kowalchuk refuted the Crown’s allegation that he put the other man in a headlock and followed him out of the restaurant. He said that after he left the restaurant the other man actually approached him first.

“I ran away from him,” he told the judge.

He ultimately admitted he and the other man fought in the restaurant and he brandished the knives after the man approached him outside the business. Kowalchuk was on probation at the time, with conditions that included he not possess any weapons.

Defence told court that although Kowalchuk doesn’t struggle with illicit drugs, he suffers from mental health problems and is on medication for bipolar disorder.

“It’s just absolutely amazing to me that no one got seriously hurt out of this,” Judge Erin Olsen said before accepting the Crown and defence joint submission for a jail sentence.

Olsen acknowledged Kowalchuk’s difficult, personal circumstances, but said they didn’t mitigate his actions.

“From what I heard of the facts, this was in many ways a random attack. It was unprovoked.”

Although sentenced to six months in jail, Kowalchuk was given credit for time already spent in remand custody, which completes his sentence.

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