A Stettler man was sentenced to 18-months house arrest for injuring someone with one punch during a wedding reception.
Levi Dennis Fisher, 22, pleaded guilty in Stettler provincial court Aug. 23 to assault causing bodily harm. Crown prosecutor Blair Brandon asked the court to sentence Fisher up to eight months in prison.
“This behaviour is extremely dangerous,” said Brandon. “It played out in a way that had extremely serious consequences for (the victim).”
The court heard that during a wedding reception in Stettler last September, Fisher punched another man, then 23, once in the head. The man fell to the ground and hit the pavement. He was rushed to Stettler hospital and later taken to Calgary Foothills hospital with traumatic brain injury.
Brandon said one witness account says there was an altercation between the defendant and victim but said other witness accounts suggest that Fisher sucker punched the victim without warning.
“He said to other attendees ‘do you want to see a fight’ and walked up to the victim and punched him in the face and head,” said Crown prosecutor Brandon.
“What is agreed is that Mr. Fisher did punch (the victim) in the face and head with a closed fist.
Brandon said there was only one sober witness, who backed up the other witness accounts that Fisher struck the victim with no provocation.
“As a result of that strike (the victim) lost consciousness. He hit the pavement, knocked his head on the pavement. Blood came from his head and mouth and EMS was called. Immediate medical intervention was required and a tube was used to assist with his breathing. He was rushed to the hospital.”
In addition to the traumatic brain injury, the victim suffered a broken nose and lacerations to his lip.
“No surgery was required, however, because of the concussion there was a serious ongoing recovery period that limited his ability to engage in a number of activities.”
Brandon said the victim has no memory of the incident himself.
Red Deer defence lawyer Daniel Wilson told the court, “My client struck him once and caused significant harm, that is admitted.”
To that Judge W.A. Skinner interjected saying, “it was use of excessive force.”
Defence gave the court a character reference letter from Fisher’s employer and former high school coach that described Fisher as a valuable employee who is actively involved in the community.
“This is extremely out of character for him,” said Wilson, adding that the letters describe Fisher as a gentleman, a hardworking young man who is always courteous and treats others with respect.
Defence asked the court to give Fisher a conditional sentence.
“He’s never been involved in the (judicial) system at all. He has been on conditions and he has followed them religiously, no breaches and no interactions with (the victim).
“This is an isolated incident.”
Judge Skinner said, “it’s a very serious matter with serious consequences.”
He added that the victim has suffered psychological and physical difficulties since the incident, as well as having a struggle with his self-worth and ability to work and support himself.
“He has some ongoing issues and there has been a change in his personality as a result of the trauma.”
Judge Skinner said if the complainant had suffered cognitive issues he would give Fisher substantial jail time.
“Cognitive goes to the core of who a person is.”
Judge Skinner said the incident also immediately affected the people at a joyous function, adding, “It affects the town as a whole.”
Before sentencing, Judge Skinner said, “this is very much a borderline case in regards to a conditional order but I’m prepared to grant it because of the age of the accused and he has no record.”
After Fisher completes his 18 months house arrest he will be placed on 12 months probation. He was ordered to give a DNA sample and given a five-year prohibition on owning firearms or weapons.
“The conditional order is very strict and it avoids you from going to a physical jail but it’s house arrest, so it’s jail in your own residence,” said Judge Skinner. “If you fail to comply with it you will find yourself behind bars very quickly.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story contained a photo that incorrectly identified the individual named in this court case. The photo was in fact not of this individual in the court case. The Stettler Independent sincerely apologizes unreservedly for the error and any kind of inconvenience this may have caused the individual who was pictured.