Abusive spouses who think they can get away with it because they’ve always lived an orderly life may forget the leniency of the courts, a judge warned as he sentenced one of them to three years in prison.
“The era of tolerance for domestic violence is now over and the courts must speak out […] society’s intolerance of such violence. No man has the right to brutalize his wife,” Judge Serge Cimon warned at the Laval courthouse this week.
Across from him sat a 40-year-old businessman who owned several Montreal restaurants. Hidden out of sight, however, was a husband who was as violent as he was controlling.
For example, the defendant, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victims, occasionally beat his wife, even in the presence of their children, who begged him to stop. In fact, he sometimes picked on them too, even when they were young.
In public, the businessman did not hesitate to insult his wife, while privately he carried her around on the floor and pulled her hair. And when she asked him for money, he would spit on a piece of paper, wipe it over his wife’s hair, and give it to her.
“Every relationship between partners is based on trust, mutual respect and love,” the judge said. Instead, the defendant chose to build the relationship on the pillars of violence, fear and torment. »
After 10 years of suffering, the woman finally managed to leave her husband despite being in a precarious economic situation as he never really let her work.
And at the end of his trial, the defendant was found guilty of a variety of charges, including assault and threats.
“The courts must underscore the courage of the applicants who manage to denounce this type of crime,” the judge said. Also, a “victim” should never blame themselves or be held responsible for experiencing domestic violence. »
However, despite his crimes, the defendant thought he could get away with weekend detention and community service. Because for him it was a harsh punishment for someone without a criminal record who was “an asset to society”.
He even pointed out that a long prison sentence would hurt his ex-wife because he was paying her alimony. He said he risks losing his restaurants and therefore not being able to pay anymore.
“He also claims that the court should take into account the happy moments that the family has experienced,” the judge added.
Apart from the fact that the attitude of the courts in relation to domestic violence has evolved, the judge recalled.
“It used to be considered a private matter and the courts were more concerned with preserving family unity than ending the violence,” he explained. That was a mistake. »
But the judiciary is now able to understand the seriousness of this type of crime.
“The intention of the government agencies is clear: ‘zero tolerance for domestic violence’. It is only natural for the judiciary to follow suit,” he said.
Thus, after exhaustive consideration of all the details of the case, after consideration of aggravating and mitigating circumstances, he came to the conclusion that the accused did not deserve leniency. He therefore went along with the Crown’s proposal and sentenced this abusive spouse to three years in prison during which he will be unable to communicate with his ex-wife.
“The courts are only going to get tougher on these kinds of crimes,” the judge also warned anyone who would be tempted to attack their spouse too, for whatever reason.