An NWT woman who stabbed her partner in a confrontation over another man has received a sentence of two and a half years.
Norma Mary Mitchell was found guilty, after a jury trial, of aggravated assault for the December 2016 stabbing of her partner, then 46.
“This offence occurred in the context of an intimate partner relationship … [even] in a mutually toxic relationship,” Crown prosecutor Jay Potter told Supreme Court on Thursday.
“In this case, Miss Mitchell retrieved a weapon and used a weapon in a way that caused [the victim] a very serious injury.
“We’re lucky we’re not dealing with a manslaughter.”
The court heard Mitchell and her partner were drinking with another man. At some point, she believed she saw her partner touching the other man in a sexual manner.
The victim called police for help before going unconscious.
He subsequently needed several blood transfusions to save his life.
Mitchell didn’t help tend to the wound, instead leaving the scene. She later asked RCMP if her partner had died.
Mitchell also breached court orders when released on bail. However, while in custody at Fort Smith Correctional Complex, she has been taking counselling for residential school survivors and is making progress dealing with her addictions issues, the court heard.
Potter noted Mitchell is a residential school survivor who was abused by her brother and grew up around alcohol. She has had a string of abusive relationships and has struggled with drugs and alcohol.
Justice Karan Shaner said she considered the Gladue factors when arriving at her sentence. The longstanding Gladue principle, named after Cree woman Jamie Tanis Gladue, requires judges to take into consideration circumstances facing Indigenous peoples in order to arrive at an appropriate sentence.
“Stabbing another person – even if it’s done in a highly tinged emotional situation – he could have died,” said Shaner.
“It’s a matter a luck, more than anything, that he did not. It appears the attack was completely unexpected by the victim.”
Shaner sentenced Mitchell to 30 months minus a pre-trial credit of approximately 10 months, leaving her with 20 months in jail.
That sentence will be followed by a two-year probation, during which she cannot contact the victim without written permission.
She will also have to provide a DNA sample and be prohibited from owning a firearm for 10 years.