A Yellowknife resident stabbed another woman in the head then blocked the bleeding victim’s path as she tried to escape and seek help, Territorial Court heard on Friday.
Police arrived at the Sissons Court residence on the day of the incident, in mid-March, to find blood on the floor of the kitchen, a hallway, and the back of the front door.
“You’re not going anywhere … you’re not going to charge me,” Crown prosecutor Mina Connelly quoted Hilary Catholique as telling the victim.
Catholique was released on bail after being arrested, though she had been sentenced to probation for assault in January and was on release following another, apparently random assault in the street in February.
A week later, on March 31, Catholique’s surety called police to say she was not following her bail conditions and hadn’t been home for two days.
A warrant for her arrest was issued on April 8. She was located on April 16 and remanded in custody until Friday.
Catholique pleaded guilty to assault, assault with a weapon, and breaches of a court order. In exchange for the plea, other charges were dropped by the Crown.
The court heard that on February 20, an intoxicated Catholique – who had just been ordered to leave the Centre Square Mall – confronted a woman at 1pm in front of the Gold Range Hotel in downtown Yellowknife and asked for a cigarette. When the request was declined, Catholique then asked if she could share a smoke.
The victim said no, as “you never know who could have a cold,” said prosecutor Connelly.
“Miss Catholique replied, and I quote, ‘Are you disrespecting me? Do you think you’re better than me?’ At which time, Miss Catholique punched [the victim] in her face with her right fist on the left side of her chin,” said Connelly.
The victim, who did not suffer long-lasting injuries, then told Catholique she was going to call police, the court heard. Catholique replied, “Go ahead, I will remember you.’”
Catholique was arrested later that day and, despite already being bound by that January probation order to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, was released on an undertaking.
On March 18, a friend of Catholique’s mother was drinking alcohol at 2pm with Catholique at the latter’s residence when, “at one point, Miss Catholique stabbed [the woman] in her head with a knife,” said Connelly, noting the attack was unprovoked.
The injured woman tried to flee the residence, but was initially prevented from doing so by Catholique, who stood in the doorway.
The woman suffered a four to five-centimetre cut near her eyebrow and a laceration on her thumb and wrist, which were treated at hospital.
Seeking support in Łutselk’e
Catholique insisted to police it was the victim who had actually attacked her, said Connelly.
“It is aggravating, though, that Miss Catholique committed these offences while on probation for assault and that both attacks were unprovoked,” said Connelly.
“Miss Catholique stabbed [the second victim] in the head, she then prevented the victim from leaving … and tried to prevent the victim from calling police,” said Connelly.
“The Crown is asking the court to impose a sentence that sends an appropriate message that this type of conduct is [not acceptable] and that will deter Miss Catholique from doing this type of conduct in the future.”
The court heard Catholique’s criminal record is limited, but does list two previous assaults – including one on her young daughter.
Neither of the women she attacked decided to provide the court with a victim impact statement.
Defence lawyer Paul Falvo provided two letters of support – one from the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation, the other from the Salvation Army – and noted Catholique had a difficult upbringing.
“If we’re looking for an explanation for [Miss Catholique’s actions], the pre-sentence report is revealing as it looks at the start that Miss Catholique had,” said Falvo, noting incidents of physical violence and sexual abuse.
“Any negative factors that have gone into creating the person that she grew into, none of these are Miss Catholique’s fault. She didn’t choose the circumstances and environment that affected her.”
Falvo said Catholique is trying to do better in life and is working hard to get her three children back from foster care “and turn things around.”
She has “strong support” with her extended family in Łutselk’e, he said, where she hopes to return to find work and get counselling.
Falvo asked for a conditional sentence, also known as house arrest, that includes probation with orders for her to seek counselling and to reside in Łutselk’e.
Random and unprovoked
Catholique chose not to speak on her own behalf from video link from the Fort Smith Correctional Complex.
“I know that her background is such that she’s had an upbringing that is a difficult one, through no fault of hers,” said Judge Garth Malakoe.
“She saw issues of alcohol and abuse and she was sexually abused when she was young. What I see, as a result of her background, is an almost continuous addiction to alcohol from the age of 14 and, most recently, I’m told since the middle of February, addicted to crack cocaine on an almost daily basis.
“She has made attempts to deal with her habits … those attempts were in the context of dealing to get her children back.”
Malakoe characterized the attacks on the two women as random, unprovoked, and frightening.
The judge accepted the Crown’s proposal and sentenced Catholique to a total of seven months, including 30 days for the first assault, 180 days to be served consecutively for the stabbing, and 30 days to be served concurrently for breaching a court order.
Catholique had amassed a total of 76 days’ remand credit, leaving her with 134 days left to serve.
When released, she will be on probation for 12 months and must have no contact or communication with either of the two women she attacked.
She is already under a previous probation order to take counselling as directed.
She must submit a DNA sample to the national crime databank and will have a five-year firearms prohibition.