June 14th, 2024

Serious assault results in 15 month sentence

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 13, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 39-year-old man who seriously injured another man during an assault last year has been sentenced to 15 months in jail.

Aaron Troy Mercredi was sentenced Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court, where he pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault. Although sentenced to 15 months in jail, Mercredi was given credit for the equivalent of about 10 1/2 months he spent in remand custody since his arrest on June 16, 2022, leaving about four and a half months to serve.

Court was told the incident was caught on video and shows Mercredi striking another man in the head with his elbow. The victim suffered a traumatic brain bleed, which required hospitalization and, nearly seven months later, still causes headaches and vision problems.

Crown Prosecutor James Rouleau pointed out Mercredi did not leave the scene right away but stayed to help the victim, and when he returned home expressed concern to his roommate.

“I hit a guy, I think I really hurt him, I didn’t mean to do that,” Rouleau quoted him.

Mercredi subsequently received legal advice and went to the police station and provided a statement.

Rouleau said Mercredi showed almost immediate, significant remorse, and didn’t intend to inflict such a serious injury.

“But that’s the risk of throwing an elbow to the head, in particular.”

Lethbridge lawyer Justin Dean said his client was born and raised in Fort McMurray and was in Lethbridge for treatment through an addictions recovery program, a program to which he will return when he is released from custody.

Dean said Mercredi has struggled with substance abuse, but while in custody he has received counselling and participated in several recovery programs covering life management skills, anger management, addictions awareness, employment skills and family violence prevention.

At the time of the offence, Mercredi was on Suboxone, an opioid replacement therapy, and attempted on his own to come off the therapy, but came off too quickly.

“This incident represents his absolute rock bottom,” Dean said.

“I thought that I can do it on my own, but Suboxone is a powerful drug,” Mercredi told the judge. “I should have listened to the doctor who said to me that, ‘you’re going too fast, you’re getting off of it way too fast, slow down.’ But the mind of an addict overtook.”

Judge Erin Olsen acknowledged Mercredi’s challenges in life, including “rampant” emotional and mental abuse in his home growing up. But she also reminded him of the impact of his assault against the other man.

“The injuries that (the victim) experienced have changed his life, and not for the better,” Olsen said. “He is struggling emotionally, the family is struggling financially. He has physical difficulties ongoing that include headaches, blurred vision and possibly other things.”

In addition to his sentence, Mercredi will be on probation for 18 months following his release from custody, during which he must remain in the province, not have any contact with the victim, abstain from alcohol and drugs, and be assessed and take psychological and psychiatric counselling, as well as counselling for anger and grief management. He must also submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Data Bank and make restitution of $1,200 to the victim.

“You won’t be seeing me again here,” Mercredi promised at the conclusion of his hearing.

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