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Courtenay man who slashed confined wife with box-cutters not guilty of attempted murder

Clinton G. Armstrong convicted of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon in Courtenay courtroom
In court on Friday, Clinton G. Armstrong was found not guilty of attempted murder but guilty of a number of other charges. Record file photo

Had Clinton G. Armstrong intended to kill his former common-law wife, he could have chosen a different weapon, according to a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

In a Courtenay courtroom Friday morning, Justice Anthony Saunders accepted defence lawyer Bobak Movassaghi’s argument and found Armstrong not guilty of a charge of attempted murder but guilty of offences of assault with a weapon and aggravated assault, along with several other charges.

When delivering his verdict, Saunders did point to statements Armstrong made during the attack on Feb. 10, 2020, of his partner after breaking into his former home. At various points, Armstrong told her was going to kill her.

“That is very compelling evidence of Mr. Armstrong’s intention,” Saunders said.

However, after several minutes, Armstrong changed his tone somewhat, saying he was going to maim her.

RELATED STORY: Weapon is key, defence says, in attempted murder case in Courtenay

Saunders cited defence arguments that Armstrong could have used a 12-inch kitchen knife to stab his victim instead of inflicting wounds with a box-cutter. The judge did note the extremity of the injuries though. These included a slash down her face that required at least 20 stitches, another on her cheek needing at least 15 stitches and others, including on her neck and abdomen.

Ultimately, the judge pointed to the “heavy burden of proof” the Crown needed to provide to prove Armstrong had the intent to commit murder. Saunders said he had to weigh all evidence, not look at individual pieces, and in doing so, found Armstrong not guilty of the attempted murder.

Also at issue was a charge of unlawful confinement. Defence had argued the time frame was not long enough to warrant the charge. However, the judge accepted that the victim was really entrapped during the whole episode and only tried to leave the house at a point after knocking over Armstrong.

“The issue was whether her freedom of movement was restrained,” Saunders said.

The final charge for Justice Saunders to decide was an assault charge relating to a fight in December 2019, prior to Armstrong’s planning to move out in early 2020. The charge was in response to allegations Armstrong had slapped his partner during a fight. Armstrong and his lawyer tried to argue this never happened, but the judge ultimately accepted the victim’s testimony over the accused’s.

“I found her evidence compelling,” the judge said. “I did not find Mr. Armstrong credible.”

In particular, Saunders rejected the accused’s claim he had no recollection of the events from the attack in February 2020.

Sentencing arguments are set for a full day on Oct. 10. Armstrong will be sentenced for the Dec. 28, 2019 assault as well as charges from the Feb. 10 incident of breaking in, unlawful confinement, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, uttering threats, mischief to property over $5,000 and two breaches of conditions. The judge agreed to Crown counsel’s request for a pre-sentence report, including a forensic psychiatric assessment.

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