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Assault with a broom, breach of court orders nets 20-day sentence

Lawrence Houle pleads guilty to four charges at Westlock Court May 8
WES provincial court

WESTLOCK — A man who assaulted his father while on probation for an earlier assault on his father was sentences to 20 days in jail at the Westlock Court of Justice on May 8. 

Lawrence David Houle pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon, uttering threats to cause bodily harm, disobeying a court order and failing to comply with a probation order. 

In addition to the jail time. Justice Clifton Purvis sentenced Houle to 12 months of probation, during which time he must abide by several conditions. 

These include reporting to probation within two business days; attending assessment, treatment and counselling as directed for substance abuse and psychological issues; having no contact with his father except through a member of the Law Society of Alberta (or if contact is initiated by his father); not attending his father’s residence or place of work, worship or education; and possessing no weapons. 

This was in line with the joint submission from the Crown and defence, which Purvis questioned given that Houle had assaulted his father and been placed on probation, then assaulted his father again. 

While the judge ultimately went along with it, he warned Houle about the consequences of violating his probation a third time. 

“I can tell you one thing: if this happens again, you’re going to go to prison for a long time. I don’t care if your parents want to help you or not. It’s time for you to grow up, man. You should be ashamed of yourself. Absolutely ashamed.” 

Facts of the case 

Crown prosecutor Andrew Dirgo said that on April 19, 2024, at approximately 7 p.m., Houle’s father reported to the Westlock RCMP that his son had threatened to shoot him in the head and then assaulted him. 

Houle had attended his father’s residence to ask for money, but was refused. He began swearing at his father and hit him with a broomstick, then threw a glass of Coke on him and threatened to “take his head off.” 

RCMP attended the scene and heard screams, Dirgo said. They observed Houle trying to enter the residence through the back door, but Houle’s father prevented him from doing so. 

“Officers identified themselves and yelled at (Houle) to stop. He did not comply, and police were required to use physical force to detain (Houle),” Dirgo said. “He struggled and resisted until handcuffs were placed on him.” 

A search incidental to Houle’s arrest turned up five knives and a small amount of suspected methamphetamine, morphine and codeine. 

Defence lawyer Richard Forbes noted that Houle is bipolar and is “locally homeless” or is at least in a tenuous housing situation. 

“(His parents) are aware of his condition and try to help him, though he doesn’t help himself by involving recreational drugs into the mix,” Forbes said. 

However, Forbes said Houle has been receiving the necessary medication since being put into custody 19 days ago, adding that Houle had a good working relationship with his probation officer prior to this incident. 

After hearing the joint submission, Purvis questioned how further probation would "protect his dad”, given Houle’s difficulty with following court orders. 

“We want to give him more probation? How does that make sense to anyone?” he asked. 

Dirgo pointed out that Houle had only been in jail briefly for an unrelated offence in the past, with the 20-day sentence being the longest he had spent in custody. 

He also noted that the assault had only been with a broomstick and the father was not injured. 

As well, Dirgo said he believed Houle needed probation in order to make sure he had access to assessment, treatment and counselling. 

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