Kamloops man who assaulted girlfriend should be dangerous offender: Lawyers

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KAMLOOPS - More than two years after he held his girlfriend hostage, beat her and threatened her, a Kamloops man will soon find out whether he will be designated a dangerous offender.

Michael Tom, 39, has been found guilty of forcible confinement, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose and uttering threats. He was due to be sentenced today, but his long criminal history led the Crown to seek a far longer sentence under Dangerous Offender provisions of the criminal code. 

According to court documents, a two-day trial was held in September 2014. Court heard during the trial his girlfriend, 38 at the time, began a relationship with Tom after he was released from Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre in May 2014.

The woman, who cannot be identified due to a court ordered publication ban, testified during the trial that the couple lived on the streets of Kamloops together. They made a make-shift home of blankets and tarps together on the riverbank near the Red Bridge.

Court documents say the woman was getting social assistance but made efforts to obtain employment. The couple would collect bottles together, but Tom found it embarrassing. It would earn them between $10 and $20 per day which they would use to buy alcohol and drugs.

Tom and his partner ended up moving into a tent along the riverbank in Valleyview. The woman testified that on June 28, 2014, they got into an argument. They exchanged words and Tom left her Valleyview tent.

She said she didn’t see him the next day before she went to sleep. She was awoken around midnight June 30 by Tom kicking her tent. He told her to get up and get out of the tent. She refused and told him to go away.

Tom slashed the tent with a knife and the woman went outside. She said his eyes were black, he was drunk and didn’t seem himself. Tom pressured her to drink from the same bottle he was drinking from and she eventually agreed.

She testified Tom grabbed her by the shoulders and started pushing her around while asking questions about her journal which had been taken some time before. She said she saw the knife he was carrying and he punched her with the blunt handle of it.

Tom punched her repeatedly in the head. The woman said Tom also kicked and kneed her. She fell to the ground and Tom grabbed her hair, held her and kneed her in the face.

Tom told her if she made a noise or brought attention to them that he would stab her, roll her up in the tent and put her in the river.

“Mr. Tom also told her that he would break her jaw if he could,” Kamloops Supreme Court Judge Sheri Donegan said in her decision.

The woman said she tried to run away but Tom grabbed her hair, held her, kneed her in the face and wouldn’t let her go. He grabbed her both times she tried to escape and told her if he stabbed her, wrapped her in the tent and put her in the river that nobody would notice because she wasn’t originally from Kamloops.

She testified that the incidents lasted for about six hours. After Tom stopped the assaults, he told the woman to go back to sleep. He joined her in the tent and they woke up around 1:30 p.m.

The woman testified she tried to think of ways to leave. The couple eventually decided to go collect bottles so they could afford alcohol and she took the opportunity to run.
The same evening, officers located Tom and he has been in custody ever since. Donegan found Tom guilty of the charges after the trial.

At a sentencing hearing in Kamloops Supreme Court today, Nov. 14, Crown prosecutor Adrienne Murphy applied to have Tom designated a dangerous offender and defence lawyer Ken Sommerfeld agreed.

Murphy focussed on Tom's alcoholism and outlined his extensive criminal past which includes a manslaughter conviction in the death of his uncle when he was in his 20s. Court heard few details about that but the Lillooet News says Tom was sentenced to four years in prison for the shooting.

Sommerfeld is seeking a sentence of roughly eight years to no more than 10 years in prison for Tom for these charges followed by a 10-year supervision order in the community, allowing Tom to receive behavioural therapy.

But Murphy seeks an indeterminate sentence, meaning Tom would spend the rest of his life on probation once he's completed his prison term.

A date for Donegan’s decision on the designation and sentencing is expected to be scheduled at the end of this month.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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