An Abbotsford man was recently convicted of assault causing bodily harm, despite his wife refusing to corroborate on the witness stand her earlier statements to police that he had choked and slapped her.
Judge Kenneth Skilnick said in his ruling on Jan. 18 in Abbotsford provincial court that both the woman and her husband were not believable witnesses during the trial.
He said that left him to instead rely on the evidence presented by a police officer, a paramedic and the couple’s landlady.
The case stemmed from an incident on Oct. 20, 2017 in the basement suite of the home that the couple and their infant son were living in.
The landlady, who lived upstairs, testified that she received Facebook Messenger messages from the woman, saying her husband was trying to kill her and asking her to come help.
The landlady knocked on the door and, when nobody answered, she called the woman on her cellphone.
The woman emerged from the suite, holding her son, and her face was bruised and swollen, the landlady testified. The woman and her son spent the night upstairs.
The following morning, she called 911 and told the operator that her husband had slapped her in the face and choked her, according to evidence presented in court.
A paramedic who was sent to the scene that morning testified that the woman’s eyes were bruised, her throat was swollen and there was a “bluish-green discoloration” on her neck.
A police officer who arrived shortly afterwards also noticed injuries and swelling to the woman’s neck and face.
In a recorded statement to the officer, the woman said that her husband had been drinking, and he assaulted her after accusing her of having an affair and suggesting that their child wasn’t his.
She said her son was present and was crying during the attack.
The woman’s husband was arrested and charged with assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats.
But during the trial, the woman changed her story, saying she couldn’t remember the incident and could not recall details such as sending texts to the landlady, why she spoke with a police officer and how she sustained the injuries to her face and neck.
“I can’t remember any of this. I don’t even remember that I called 911,” she said in court.
The woman testified that she loves her husband and complained that he had been living apart from her and their kids.
In his testimony, the accused denied ever assaulting or threatening his wife, and said the subsequent involvement of the Ministry of Children and Family Development had caused him stress.
However, the judge rejected the testimony of the couple, saying the fact that the woman had been assaulted on the night in question was “clearly proven” by the testimony of the other parties, as well as her call to 911 and the messages to her landlady.
Skilnick said he had no doubt that the complainant was lying when she testified that her husband had not assaulted her.
“The evidence in this matter leads me to conclude that she is being untruthful because she is under the misguided belief that doing so will somehow take the Ministry of Children and Families out of her life and will get the accused back home,” he said.
Skilnick advised the pair that refusing to acknowledge the problem could cause future problems for their son who witnessed the assault.
“The best thing they can do as parents is cooperate with the ministry … in taking proper steps to ensure that this never happens again, if they want to give their son a happy life and spare him from going through what they have gone through,” the judge said.
Skilnick convicted the husband of the assault, and stayed the charge of uttering threats. The man has not yet been sentenced.