A Behchokǫ̀ woman who stabbed her partner multiple times in “out-of-control, frenzied anger” was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on Wednesday.
A Yellowknife court heard one cut severed nerves and tendons on the victim’s arm, revealing bone and causing mobility damage that may be permanent.
“Pictures taken from where the attack happened show an enormous amount of blood on the floor and the walls,” said NWT Supreme Court Justice Louise Charbonneau as she sentenced Mandy Goulet.
“It’s like a scene from a horror movie.”
The court heard that the relationship between the two people had involved frequent fights and alcohol abuse.
On January 19, 2019, they began to argue. Goulet hit her partner in the face and was pushed back. Goulet went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. The victim ran to the bathroom to try to protect herself, but the door didn’t close.
As Goulet began striking the victim with the knife, she raised her arm in defence. The knife sliced into her arm several times.
Falling to the ground, the knife attack continued, with several strikes landing on various areas of the victim’s body.
“Miss Goulet stopped the attack on her own, and helped [the victim] up, telling her she would be OK,” said Charbonneau.
As she was led outside to sit on the front steps, the victim – wearing only pants, socks, and a T-shirt in freezing temperatures – managed to flee to a neighbour’s house. Police were called and Goulet was arrested.
Jail phone calls
Forty-eight stitches were needed to close the wounds, but the deep forearm gash required subsequent surgery. The victim chose not to submit an impact statement to the court.
Goulet pleaded guilty to three charges: the aggravated assault in January 2019, an attempt to obstruct justice in July 2019, and assaulting a jail guard in February this year.
While in custody awaiting trial, Goulet called an acquaintance from the Fort Smith Correctional Complex and had that person join the victim to a three-way call.
This happened twice. Goulet was under court order not to contact the victim.
During the calls, Goulet asked the victim not to say anything about what happened when called to testify at the hearing. However, the victim honoured her oath while on the stand and explained what happened during the attack. She also revealed the phone calls from jail.
The attack on the corrections officer happened while Goulet was being moved through the jail. She suddenly “turned around and punched the escorting officer in the face,” said Charbonneau.
Goulet, 24, didn’t have a criminal record before the attack. She did breach a bail condition to be under house arrest in May 2019. She pleaded guilty to that charge earlier this year and received one day in jail.
A pre-sentence report shows Goulet grew up in “stable and functional” home, but she struggled with alcohol abuse as she grew older. Goulet had a daughter when she was 17.
She hopes to in the future upgrade her education, maintain her sobriety and be a good mother, said the judge, referring to the pre-sentence report. Her relationship with the victim is over.
Charbonneau noted as Goulet is an Indigenous offender, the law requires she take into consideration the systemic and background factors that continue to see an over-representation of that population behind bars. Sentencing judges are required to exercise as much restraint as possible when deciding on penalties.
“Miss Goulet’s personal circumstances are quite positive compared to those of many who come before this court,” said the judge.
“But the level of violence that was displayed in January 2019 suggests there may be some anger issues that need to be addressed on an ongoing basis and … may require some professional assistance.
“The next time, when she snaps, she could kill someone.”
Ten months to serve
Crown prosecutor Morgan Fane asked for an overall sentence of between two and a half and three years, while defence lawyer Jay Bran asked for a sentence equalling time served.
Goulet had been in jail since she breached her bail condition, amassing remand credit of 2.2 years. Under Fane’s plan, which the judge ultimately accepted, Goulet has 10 months remaining to serve.
Charbonneau noted Goulet has expressed remorse for her actions and apologized in court.
The Crown’s sentencing recommendations showed “remarkable restraint,” Charbonneau said.
Goulet received three years for the aggravated assault, nine months to be served concurrently for attempting to obstruct justice, and three months to be served concurrently for assaulting the jail guard.
Two years of supervised probation will follow, with orders to seek counselling as directed and have no contact with the victim.