Man who sparked long police standoff 'clearly a danger to the community.'

Appeals court orders wife beater to prison


An Igloolik man with a long history of beating his common-law wife and violating probation must spend the next year in prison, because it is "virtually inevitable" he will reoffend, the Nunavut court of appeal ruled Nov. 27.

The decision quashes a conditional sentence given to Theophile Akkuardjuk for threatening his wife, chasing terrified social workers, and starting an armed stand-off with police that effectively shut down the community for four days, on Feb. 24, 2006.

On January 30, 2007, Justice Earle Johnson gave Akkuardjuk a conditional sentence of two years less a day for the crimes. It was the third conditional sentence received by Akkuardjuk, who has a record of eight prior assault convictions going back to 1995.

Akkuardjuk, 38 at the time, expressed remorse and apologized to social workers, police and the community for the terror he caused. Johnson thought Akkuardjuk had good prospects for rehabilitation.

The appeal judges disagree. They said in their ruling that Akkuardjuk "is clearly a danger to the community," who "has demonstrated that the likelihood of his reoffending is not only high – it is virtually inevitable."

The Criminal Code of Canada states conditional sentences are only to be given if no risk is posed to the community – which, appeal judges note, includes risks posed to Akkuardjuk's spouse, Rita.

Yet plenty of evidence existed that Akkuardjuk may reoffend, say the appeal judges.

At the time of sentencing, Akkuardjuk was also given a consecutive sentence of 18 months for two earlier assaults on Rita.

On Sept. 4, 2005, Akkuardjuk struck his spouse's mother, and then repeatedly beat Rita while she was on her knees with a baby in her amauti.

Five months later, on Jan. 29, 2006, he again beat her on the head and shoulder with his fists.

The sentence for these crimes was written off as "time served" in prison awaiting trial.

The appeal court said it was "inconsistent in principle" of Johnson to mete out a conditional sentence, given these past violent crimes.

The court of appeal judgment describes the events of Feb. 24, 2006 as follows.

Akkuardjuk's spouse, Rita, left home that day after being frightened during an argument with Akkuardjuk. When she later phoned him, he threatened to kill her, and to hurt police if they tried to arrest him.

She phoned her social worker and the RCMP. Then she heard banging on the door of the home she was hiding inside.

She hid in a closet and watched as Akkuardjuk broke down the door and entered carrying a rifle. But he did not find her, and retreated to his home before police arrived.

Shortly afterwards, two social workers arrived at Akkuardjuk's home and knocked on the door. No one answered. But, as they returned to their van, they saw him running towards them.

He smashed out the van's back window as it drove away. Then he caught up with the van and broke the driver's window. Terrified, the social workers escaped. Akkuardjuk's attention next turned to the approaching police vehicle.

He stopped, crouched and pointed his rifle at police, who drove for cover between houses. Police held their fire because of children nearby.

A four-day stand-off followed. After police arrested Akkuardjuk, they inspected his rifle. It had no bolt and could not be fired.

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