Conditional sentence for elderly Penticton man who assaulted his wife | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Conditional sentence for elderly Penticton man who assaulted his wife

An elderly Penticton man will serve a conditional sentence for a violent, uncharacteristic assault on his wife, in an incident the Crown Prosecutor said he "couldn't think of a more tragic case."

A Penticton man has pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife in what Penticton court heard was uncharacteristic for the 78-year-old.

Gunter Volkmar Spoerlein, born in 1942, entered a guilty plea to a single charge of assault causing bodily harm today, Aug. 13.

Crown prosecutor John Swanson told court the charge stemmed from a Sept. 6, 2019 incident in which police were called to a stabbing at the Spoerlein residence. He said police were astonished to find Mrs. Spoerlein answering the door, covered with blood.

She was taken to hospital for treatment of numerous knife cuts including a significant laceration to her hand.

Swanson told court the two were having coffee in their residence when Mr. Spoerlein suddenly became enraged. He hit her with a coffee carafe and then followed her into the bedroom where a struggle ensued. Mrs. Spoerlein was stabbed several times before Mr. Spoerlein suddenly stopped.

“I can’t think of a more tragic case. Here we have an elderly man on the cusp of dementia,” Swanson said, adding Mr. Spoerlein offered no further threat to the public.

His wife still has a relationship with him and wishes to continue, he said.

Defence lawyer Joanna Kelly said the couple, who have no children, have been married 50 years. Gunter, now almost 80, suffered a major stroke in 2016 that left him weak, cognitively impaired and with behavioural changes.

A geriatric forensic psychologist said Mr. Spoerlein suffered from brain damage caused by the stroke, resulting in a worsening condition of anxiety, mood swings, aggression, and paranoia, all of which contributed to the unexplained violence of Sept. 6, 2019.

Kelly said her client, who had no criminal record or prior history of violence, was “overwhelmed with remorse,” although he could not recall all the details of the attack.

She said he presented no threat to the general public and was now in assisted living where 24-hour assistance was available.

Kelly said Mrs. Spoerlein continues to care for her husband, even though they will never live together as husband and wife again.

Justice Michelle Daneliuk agreed to a joint submission from Crown and defence, sentencing Mr. Spoerlein to an 18-month conditional sentence after crediting him for 66 days for time served. He was also sentenced to 18 months on probation.

In an unusual aspect to the proceedings given the current pandemic, Mr. Spoerlein appeared in court via telephone while his lawyer was there in person.

Find past stories on the case here.

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