The Nunavut Court of Appeal has dismissed Jessica Akpalialuk’s appeals of her conviction and sentence for the 2019 aggravated assault of a Pangnirtung man with her common-law partner. (File photo)

Appeals dismissed for Nunavut woman involved in Pangnirtung assault

Jessica Akpalialuk and her common-law partner assaulted a Pagnirtung man in 2019

By Mélanie Ritchot

A woman who was jailed last year for beating up a man in Pangnirtung alongside her common-law partner has failed in her attempt to get her conviction overturned.

Jessica Akpalialuk, who was 27 at the time of the offence, was convicted of aggravated assault after she and her partner repeatedly punched and kicked a man they were drinking with the head, causing serious injuries, in March 2019, the judgment states.

In the appeal, Akpalialuk asserted that the verdict was not reasonable and that the trial judge, Adriana Doyle, didn’t give enough reason for her decision and misinterpreted the evidence of two eyewitnesses. She also said her one-year sentence for the assault was not proportionate to the crime.

She argued that since there was an eight-hour period between the assault and the victim going to the health centre, he could have fallen over or someone else could have assaulted him, causing the wounds to his head.

This argument was dismissed by an appeals court panel because it goes against the testimonies of the homeowner and victim, and is at odds with common sense.

“It is not common sense to infer that a man bleeding from the head after being assaulted, who is later found to have head lacerations, actually sustained the injuries from a completely different incident,” states the judgment, which was released Jan. 7.

Akpalialuk also claimed that the judge mistakenly considered key parts of testimony to be consistent, when in fact they were not, such as whether the victim was knocked on the ground by a punch, or whether a weapon was used.

The judgment called this a “mischaracterization” of the trial judge’s reasoning.

Instead, the judgment states that the verdict was based on several key parts of testimony that were consistent: Akpalialuk participated in the assault with her partner, the victim was hit while on the ground and did not fight back, and he was unconscious for part of the assault.

Akpalialuk’s claims that her sentence was disproportionate to the crime were also dismissed.

Along with her assault charges, she received two charges of breaching court orders for drinking alcohol. She pleaded guilty to those in 2019.

She was sentenced to 12 months in jail, minus time already served, and three years of probation for the assault. For the breached court orders, she was sentenced to one month in jail.

“As to the fitness of the sentence, while I may have imposed a sentence lower than 12 months in custody, I cannot say that the sentence imposed is demonstrably unfit,” stated Justice Ritu Khullar.

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