A man who violently assaulted his ex-girlfriend in Yarrow, forced her into the trunk of his car, drove her to Surrey where he stripped her naked and threatened to kill her, is off to jail.
The tension was palpable in courtroom 205 at the Chilliwack Law Courts on Oct. 29 as young friends and family members of Montgomery Ash sat on one side of the courtroom while the victim, supporters and RCMP officers sat on the other.
Crown counsel Henry Waldock and Ash’s lawyer Mark Swartz laid out a joint submission of three-and-a-half years in prison on five counts connected to the incident in the early hours of Nov. 4, 2015: assault with a weapon, attempting to choke to overcome resistance, kidnapping, assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.
Judge Robert Browning agreed with the joint submission, and sentenced the 23-year-old as requested. Given Ash’s 103 days in custody, credit for which he was given 155 days, his net sentence was three years, 28 days.
Further aggravating the kidnapping is that the 21-year-old victim, whose name cannot be reported due to a publication ban, has a four-year-old son who would have normally been present in home where Ash pepper-sprayed another man and violently assaulted the young woman.
It was Ash’s birthday, Nov. 3, 2015, when he went out drinking and exchanged numerous text messages with the victim of the attack.
The musclebound longshoreman then drove to Yarrow, tried to kick in the door and eventually smashed the living room window on the ground floor. Awakened by the noise, the victim was on her way downstairs when Ash went right by her up to the bedroom where he found a male hiding in the closet who he pepper-sprayed.
Ash then punched the female victim in the face, breaking her glasses. He then dragged her to his car and threw her in the trunk.
The young woman desperately tried to get out of the trunk as Ash drove back to Surrey, eventually getting it open at which time she started throwing items out onto Highway 1 to alert other drivers. Ash drove off the highway in Abbotsford, kicked her in the head and threatened her life.
“If you don’t get back in the car, I’ll kill you,” he told her.
They finally made it to Surrey where Ash took the young woman to a field near the Bridgeview Community Centre, stripped her down and punched her in the face. She was somehow able to escape and, at about 5 a.m., a man on his way to work spotted her and was able to clothe her and call police.
Ash appeared an unsympathetic offender who, despite pleading guilty, offered a questionable apology to the court. The well-dressed young supporters of the guilty man behaved in court on Oct. 28 in a way incongruous to Ash’s claim he was remorseful for his actions. A number of the 20-something young men and women, particularly his brother Walden, frequently shook their heads in disbelief or disgust as Waldock spoke of the victim’s trauma after the vicious assault, and the effect it has had on her life.
A number of them also often glared across the gallery at the victim despite the fact that she was surrounded not only by supporters but also a victim’s services worker and RCMP investigators.
The judge even questioned Ash’s remorse from the young man’s own words provided to the court.
“I’m not certain, sir, if you have insight into the effects your actions had on this day,” Browning said.
Browning pointed to a number of elements in Ash’s apology letter that bothered him. Among them, the fact that Ash told the victim he understands the pain she had endured, something the judge asked Ash how he could possibly understand. Then there was the violent attacker’s suggestion to his victim that his behaviour was “extremely inappropriate.”
“That is an understatement at the very least,” Browning told Ash.
Thirdly, the judge read from Ash’s written statement and compared one passage to words similar to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who, when faced with terrible allegations of sexual assault, said he apologized to women to whom he “may” have caused trauma.
“There is no question there is trauma that ‘may’ have occurred,” Browning said, “and I don’t know that you understand that.”
“I do,” Ash responded.
In the end, Browning agreed to follow the joint submission, at least in part because of a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision that said judges should not deviate from joint submissions unless the proposed sentence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
“It’s not sufficient that I may disagree with the sentence proposed,” Browning said.
In addition to the three-and-a-half-year sentence, Ash was handed a lifetime firearms prohibition and he is forbidden from contacting either of his victims or the four-year-old son of his female victim while he is in custody.