WESTLOCK – A 17-year-old Westlock girl who challenged another teen to a fight in the R.F. Staples School cafeteria, then repeatedly punched her in the face and chipped the victim’s tooth during the unprovoked assault, received a conditional discharge which includes 12 months of probation and 15 hours of community service.
In Westlock Provincial Court Aug. 9, the teen, who cannot be named due to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pleaded guilty to a single count of assault. While Crown prosecutor Patricia Hankinson and defence lawyer Jan A. TerHart agreed on the conditional discharge, community service hours and conditions the girl must follow, Hankinson had asked for 15 months of probation, while TerHart argued for a year, which Judge Clifton Purvis agreed to.
The teen, who had no previous criminal record, has also been barred from contacting the victim in person, via social media or other electronic means — both girls attend the same school so “incidental contact” is allowed. Judge Purvis, who wished the teenager good luck at the conclusion of sentencing, also waived the victim-fine surcharge.
“If you satisfactorily complete the probation terms you’re going to get a discharge and that’s what you should get in this case … it’s a really good opportunity for you, so don’t blow it,” said the judge.
“You’re the one bound by the order, not the victim. So, if she’s in the room, you need to leave the room. If she’s in the cafeteria, you have to get out of there. If she gives you a dirty look, you have to get out of there and you can’t return it. If she tries to talk to you, you have to leave because if you say a word back, you’re the one who’ll be in breach of my order.
“And if you’re in breach of my order you’re not going to get a conditional discharge. Not only that, if you’re charged with breaching the order, you can be charged with breach of probation and then you’ll be brought back in front of me and I’m going to sentence you on that. And that won’t end well for you.”
TerHart, who waived the need for a Gladue Report for his client, said there’s “been bad blood between these two girls for quite some time” although that was no excuse for the assault.
“My client foolishly challenged her to a fight and that challenge was rejected. She understands that’s not the way to deal with things,” said TerHart, noting his client will be 18 years old by the time the sentence ends.
“She’s now in a much more stable setting with another adult who’s providing her with the guidance that her parents haven’t and her foster parents denied her. It hasn’t been an easy road for her. This is her first real contact with the law and I’m pretty confident that she’s not coming back.”
Hankinson told court that on May 3, 2022, a girl was sitting in the R.F. Staples School cafeteria when the accused walked up to her and asked if she wanted to fight.
“And she said, ‘No, not really.’ The accused then began punching the victim in the face with a closed fist and then left the cafeteria,” said Hankinson, adding the assault left the victim with a red, swollen eye and a chipped tooth.