Skip to content

Due to ‘harsher’ effects of Covid, judge reduces jail time for man who committed string of assaults

An Iqaluit man who committed five assaults over six months has had two months shaved off of his sentence due to the hardships posed by Covid-19 measures.

Robert Campbell pleaded guilty on Feb. 18 to a spree of assaults. On June 15, he was sentenced to 15 months in jail followed by 18 months of probation. Judge Susan Charlesworth gave Campbell credit of 1.5 days for each day spent behind bars awaiting his sentence.

An inability to have family visit him, to eat country food, to have access to counselling and limited time outdoors – all due to Covid-19 – are reason enough to shave 60 days off the sentence of an Iqaluit man with five assaults over six months, a judge decided recently.
NNSL file photo

She cited a reduction of rehabilitative programming at Baffin Correction Centre and the suspension of visitation – both due to Covid-19 – as reasons to trim another 60 days from Campbell’s sentence. She also noted that country food is no longer being provided to inmates and outdoor time has been cut back to approximately 30 minutes no more than three times a week, also because of the pandemic, since mid-March.

“Mr. Campbell was not able to have any visits from his family during remand, nor assistance from Elders or other counsellors,” Charlesworth wrote. “Mr. Campbell was also subject to the money transfer restrictions: not only could he not see his four children, but he could not provide money for them, as I was told he otherwise would have done. These restrictions will continue going forward.”

Charlesworth referenced a number of cases in Ontario where similar sentencing considerations were made because of Covid-19. Crown prosecutor Emma Baasch didn’t agree with applying a shortened sentence owing to the virus in this court case, however.

Campbell’s assault binge started in July 2019 when he struck another man on the back of the head, drawing blood, while the man was walking away. The two had been arguing over Campbell supposedly cutting in line.

In September, he got into a fight with a security guard at the Frobisher Inn while intoxicated.

In December, Campbell punched a male youth and a 16-year-old girl outside a residence because he apparently thought they were trying to steal his shoes, the court decision stated.

In January, he assaulted a woman in a residence who consequently suffered facial swelling and bruising for two to three weeks. Upon being arrested for that incident, Campbell allegedly told the police officers: “I’m going to choke you; can’t wait, bitch,” and when read his right to obtain a lawyer without delay, he said, “I’m going to choke you to death.”

Campbell went to jail and remained there as of Jan. 18. He was sentenced to four months for the Legion assault, one month for the Frobisher Inn assault, four months for the assault on the youth and six months for the serious assault with a weapon against the woman.

“Each individual offence was relatively low on the gravity scale,” Charlesworth wrote, adding that the Crown affirmed this by electing to lay summary offence charges, which come with lesser penalties than indictable offence charges. The judge added that Campbell’s guilty plea and a prepared statement he made show he’s taking responsibility for his offences and that he intends to work on rehabilitating himself, which the 18 months of probation is supposed to accommodate.