Warning: This report contains details of a sexual assault case, as heard in court, that readers may find disturbing.
A man discovered fondling a cellmate at Behchokǫ̀’s RCMP detachment received a five-month sentence on Friday in Territorial Court.
On March 7, Joey Paul Eyakfwo and another man “were placed in cells to sleep it off” at the detachment, Crown prosecutor Pierre-Luc Bergeron told the court, noting the cells are monitored by camera.
“Eyakfwo sat up, looked at [the other man] and reached over,” proceeding to grope the man, said Bergeron.
The other man woke up almost immediately, then “sat up and punched Mr Eyakfwo in the face with his right fist,” stated the prosecutor.
The two men were separated. Eyakfwo, 45, later stated he could not recall the 7:11pm incident as he was too drunk.
Eyakfwo pleaded guilty to that sexual assault and two other recent crimes – including striking his ex-girlfriend in the face.
The prosecutor characterized the jail cell sexual assault as “wanton [and] disturbing in its nature,” as the other prisoner was intoxicated.
“It must have been very traumatizing for the victim … the victim was resting at the time and there was no indication he wanted to engage in sexual activity,” said Bergeron.
“It is very traumatizing for anyone, but even more so if you are in a vulnerable position.
“Everyone must respect the dignity of people and that they should not be disturbed in those circumstances.”
On March 15, police were called to a house in Behchokǫ̀ for a domestic assault complaint. Eyakfwo’s ex-girlfriend was found to be bleeding from her nose and was taken to the hospital.
“He had come from behind and hit her in the face more than once,” said Bergeron, noting she didn’t know why he hit her.
Eyakfwo was later found intoxicated outside another residence and charged with assault.
On April 4, police received a call from Eyakfwo’s surety, stating he had violated his 9pm curfew. When he returned home just after midnight, police attended and found him very intoxicated.
Defence lawyer Baljindar Rattan said Eyakfwo grew up in a household filled with violence and alcohol.
“He tells me that he has reflected a lot about his life and he sees the connection that whenever alcohol is involved, he gets into trouble,” she said, noting the construction worker has had trouble staying employed.
“He immediately apologized when police questioned him on the assault charge [and] he tells me he is extremely embarrassed about the sexual assault charge. He wants to apologize to the victim.”
Neither of Eyakfwo’s victims provided an impact statement to the court.
His head hanging down, Eyakfwo stood in court to quietly say he was sorry, and wanted to apologize to his ex-girlfriend and the man in the cell.
NWT Chief Judge Christine Gagnon accepted a joint recommendation – taking Eyakfwo’s criminal record starting in 1991 into consideration – for a total of five months for the three charges.
The Crown dropped another charge of breaching a court order.
With a credit given for 77 days in remand, Eyakfwo has 79 days left to serve.
When he is released he will be on probation for one year, during which he will take any counselling deemed fit.
He will have to provide a DNA sample and be registered on the national sex offender registry for 10 years.
He can have no contact or communication with either of the victims.