July 23rd, 2024

No jail for man who assaulted three people


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on June 18, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 38-year -old man who assaulted his wife, his wife’s neighbour and a police officer, will not have to serve any time in jail, a judge has ruled.

Ihor Hryhorash, who fled from Ukraine and came to Lethbridge in 2023, was handed a conditional discharge Monday in Lethbridge court of justice and placed on probation for 18 months for assaulting his wife and her neighbour,and uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm; charges to which he pleaded guilty in March.

He also pleaded guilty to assaulting a peace officer, for which he was handed an absolute discharge and levied a $1,500 victim fine surcharge, to be paid by Jan. 21, 2025.

“I appreciate that an absolute discharge for an assault against a police officer may, on its face, appear inappropriate and outside of a fair and reasonable sentencing range,” Justice Kristin Ailsby said. “In normal circumstances it would be. However, we’re not dealing with normal circumstances here.”

Ailsby took into consideration the $1,500 surcharge which, she said, is equivalent to a hefty fine, as well as the equivalent of 15 days Hyrhorash spent in pre-trial custody after he was arrested. She also considered how the assault occurred in the context of the other assaults.

“The assault against the police officer is not reflective of a pattern in this accused man’s life for a wilful disregard for authority or a larger desire to subvert justice. Mr. Hryhorash was confronted by police in his wife’s home after he had become grossly intoxicated. He was drunk because he was struggling to navigate personal crisis of his entire life falling apart.”

After Russia attacked Ukraine in February 2022, Hryhorash’s wife and daughter fled to Lethbridge to live with his sister, and Hryhorash remained behind for a time after receiving devastating news from his wife.

“Before they left Nataliya Hryhorash advised her husband that the relationship was over, that she wanted a divorce, and that she was taking their daughter…to safety and that her plans did not include him, at least not as her husband,” Ailsby said. “Mr. Hryhorash was devastated and confused by this information, and he certainly did not want to accept that his entire life as he knew it was over.”

Hryhorash later moved to Lethbridge, as well, and on Oct. 5 of last year he went to his wife’s house where, Ailsby pointed out, their discussions were tense and fraught with conflict.

The verbal altercation escalated into a fight, during which Hryhorash, who was “grossly” intoxicated, pushed his wife to the floor, injuring her forehead. When a neighbour heard the altercation and entered the apartment, Hryhorash shoved her out of the way, grabbed a knife and threatened to kill his wife.

When police arrived Hryhorash was still drinking alcohol and refused to cooperate. He struck a cellphone from an officer’s hand, and stomped on his foot.

“It took more than one officer to obtain control over him,” Ailsby added.

She said Hryhorash has since been doing better and has sought professional counselling.

Ailsby said Hryhorash’s “exceptional” circumstances justifies the sentence she imposed, which is in his best interest and balances the gravity of the offences and his responsibility for them.

“Mr Hryborash is living in Canada because of a specialized immigration program the federal government put into effect following the Ukrainian crisis. He’s particularly vulnerable. If he were to obtain a criminal record, he may be prevented from transitioning in Canada as a permanent resident. In other words, his ability to stay with his family, to know his daughter as she grows up, would be jeopardized.”

Ailsby added that if Hryhorash was deported because of a criminal record, his life could also be in danger after he returned to Ukraine.

As part of his probation, Hryhorash must obey several conditions, which include avoiding contact with his wife and her neighbour, except under specific exceptions. He must take counselling and treatment, including counselling for post traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from the war in Ukraine, and while he can drink alcohol, he is prohibited from drinking to excess.

“So he can drink but he just can’t get drunk.”

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