Warning: This report contains details of violence that some readers may find disturbing.
A man’s ear was partially bitten off as he tried to break up a fight but the Good Samaritan doesn’t hold a grudge against his former friend, a Yellowknife court heard this week.
The victim understands Alan Grimard was “going through a lot” at the time, Crown prosecutor Gary Magee told a sentencing hearing in NWT Territorial Court on Wednesday.
In June 2018, Grimard and the victim – who Cabin Radio is not naming – had known each other a short time as they were each dating women who were sisters.
On June 9, the pair found themselves outside smoking at a party hosted at the home of another man.
“[The victim] observed that Mr. Grimard was mistreating his girlfriend and that he was acting in a way that was agitated,” the prosecutor said. “Mr. Grimard and the host … got into an altercation … [the victim] got in the middle of them to break up the altercation.”
Grimard then grabbed the victim in a bear hug and they fell to the ground.
“While they were fighting on the ground, Mr. Grimard bit [the victim’s] right ear, removing a piece of the ear lobe and cartilage,” Magee described.
In shock, the victim pushed Grimard away, but he was soon attacked again, until onlookers broke up the fight.
The 5 cm x 1 cm chunk of the man’s ear was located by an RCMP officer, who gave it to an ambulance attendant. The tissue was re-attached at Stanton Territorial Hospital, but it didn’t survive and later had to be removed, leaving the man “with disfigurement of his ear,” Magee said.
Magee said the victim — a conservation officer with the territorial government — chose not to file a victim impact statement.
“He told our office he bears no ill will toward Mr. Grimard,” Magee said, adding a no-contact order wouldn’t be needed.
“They no longer have a friendship relationship.”
Grimard has a criminal record, which includes entries for violence and breaking court orders. The 27-year-old was on probation for a charge of assault with a weapon when he attacked his friend.
Grimard was sent for a psychiatric assessment “because of some unusual comments he made in court.” It was determined he struggles with substance abuse, including marijuana, which might have contributed to the offence, Magee said.
Defence lawyer Paul Falvo noted his client is Métis and suffered neglect and physical abuse at the hands of his grandmother — a residential school survivor — who raised him at one point.
Grimard ended up being “poor and homeless” as a young man, suffering further injuries,” Falvo said.
“He had a very negative relationship with alcohol; he describes it as a bad spiral,” the lawyer said. “He says he was also keeping the company of others who were suffering addiction … At the time of the offence he was doing quite badly. But the change in Mr. Grimard over the past few months has been dramatic.”
Falvo said his client is working, has stopped drinking and has “stabilized his life,” in part by turning to self-help guru Tony Robbins.
“I don’t ever think I’ve mentioned Tony Robbins in court before,” Falvo said. “[Grimard said] it was helping him be a better version of himself.”
While Grimard was released on bail, he had accumulated 300 days, or about 10 months, of remand time.
Deputy Judge Gerald Morin agreed to the joint sentence recommendation of time served, plus 18 months supervised probation, during which Grimard must any take counselling or treatment for substance abuse as directed.
Morin is a retired jurist known for being Saskatchewan’s first Cree speaker on the bench. He is a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and helped establish the Cree court circuit in Saskatchewan.
On Wednesday, Morin spent some time sharing some of his wisdom with Grimard.
“I think what you need to do first is to clearly understand some of the troubled factors that bring you to court, some of your past, in relation to who you are and where you came from,” Morin told Grimard. “Maybe some of that anger that came out … and the actions you took were greater than what were necessary come out from some of your past.
“I think the court certainly understands that in terms of how people were treated in the past as children is traumatizing to the point that it will govern a lot of your thinking and will govern a lot of your actions.
“I strongly suggest that you take the counselling … expose yourself to that and allow people into your world in terms of how they can help. Don’t dwell in the past. At some point you have to quit walking backwards into the future and turn around and face it.”