May 28th, 2024

Lethbridge man uses excessive force, chokes girlfriend during drunken fight

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on April 18, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man who was tried and found guilty several months ago of choking his girlfriend, will be able to serve a custodial sentence in the community.
Paul Odong received in Lethbridge court of justice Wednesday an 18-month conditional sentence, the first half of which he will be under house arrest 24 hours a day. During the second half of his sentence he must obey a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day.
Odong, who defended himself at his domestic violence trial, was in a relationship with the victim and choked her from behind during a night of drinking nearly three years ago.
Odong called the woman a derogatory name and she retaliated by throwing a drink in his face and calling him names. He grabbed her hand and during a brief fight she hit him three times in the shoulder and he struck her in the forehead.
“He then was able to flip her around, and that’s where the choking from behind with his forearm commenced,” Justice Gregory Maxwell said during the sentencing hearing. “She, at some point in time…put her fingers in  his nose in order to stop that because of her fear.”
Maxwell noted Odong is from Sudan where his father died and where, from a young age, he was exposed to difficult circumstances. Maxwell also pointed out Odong suffers from substance abuse, but has been sober “for a significant period of time” and is attempting to address some mental health issues.
A pre-sentence report was prepared to help determine a fit sentence in Odong’s case, and it describes a number of cultural factors which play a role in his life and his criminal offences.
Maxwell said the assault is aggravating because it was against a vulnerable intimate partner, and choking, by its very nature, is serious. But he added the victim was not seriously injured and Odong’s moral blameworthiness is somewhat reduced because the woman assaulted him first.
“In that respect I would reference the throwing of the drink in his face. At that point I believe he is more than entitled to try to hold her hands to stop her from repetition, and then she reported she then started to strike Mr. Odong.”
Maxwell ruled, however, that Odong responded with excessive force, and only stopped when someone else intervened.
Odong will be on probation for 12 months following his 18-month conditional sentence, during which he must behave himself, remain in Alberta, avoid any contact with the victim, and reside at a specific northside residence. He must also be assessed and take psychological and psychiatric counselling and counselling for alcohol abuse and domestic violence, and he is prohibited from buying alcohol and drugs and possessing weapons.

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