Vernon News

Vernon man sentenced for 'campaign' of sexual abuse against former partner

Image Credit: PEXELS


A Vernon man who was found guilty for subjecting his former partner to a "campaign" of sexual assault and abuse before going on the run for two-and-half years was finally sentenced in a Vernon courtroom yesterday, Dec. 11.

Clifford John Konkin was found guilty in January 2017 for charges of uttering death threats, assault, and sexual assault of his former partner while the couple lived together for nine weeks earlier this decade.

However, after Konkin was found guilty, he skipped his following court appearance and avoided going to jail. He was picked up again in August 2019, arrested, and has remained in custody since.

While the court heard graphic details of Konkins daily assaults against his former partner, much of the courtroom conversation centred around how much time the 50-year-old should spend behind bars.

Ordinarily, such serious charges would be prosecuted by indictment, allowing Crown counsel to argue for, and a judge to impose longer jail sentences. However, for reasons not explained to the court, Crown counsel opted to prosecute by summary conviction, limiting the maximum jail time the judge could impose to 18 months.

Crown counsel Laura McPheeters told the court Konkin forced her into sex and oral sex on a daily basis and he would laugh if she complained. He also physically assaulted her on numerous occasions and explained to her elaborate ways he would kill her. The events all took place over a two-and-a-half-month period while the couple lived together.

Konkin had argued during the trial the sex was consensual however Judge Richard Hewson told the court any "apparent consent" was simply his former partner surrendering.

McPheeters argued Konkin's behaviour was "sadistic" and repeated and showed no remorse for his actions. The court heard how Konkin was unable to demonstrate any empathy for his victim.

"Emotionally I prayed for the lord to either rescue or take me home," the victim said in an impact statement read to the court.

The Crown lawyer argued for a sentence of six to 12 months for the charge of uttering threats; three to six months for assault and 18 months for sexual assault. McPheeters argued the sentence should be served consecutively, meaning Konkin would spend between 27 and 36 months behind bars.

While the Criminal Code states a series of acts that occur as part of a single endeavour are sentenced concurrently, McPheeters argued the "campaign of abuse" was not one single endeavour.

"You can not say that the two and a half months (of abuse) constitutes one single endeavour," McPheeters said. "These are distinct offences, they occurred in different circumstances, it wasn't that a threat was uttered while a sexual assault was happening."

The Crown lawyer told the court the sentence imposed by Judge Hewson would be based on his interpretation of the word "endeavour."

However, Judge Hewson ruled the sentence cannot be served consecutively.

"In my view, this was a nine-week act of abuse," the judge said, adding it was too difficult to rule the offences should be considered for a consecutive sentence.

The judge pointed to an earlier conviction of sexual assault from 1993, a pre-sentence report detailing "sadistic personal traits" along with a report which put Konkin in the moderate to high risk of re-offending during his sentencing.

"I have never committed any crime of any kind," Konkin replied when the judge asked him if he wanted to say anything.

Judge Hewson sentenced Konkin to 17 months in jail for the charges of assault, sexual assault and uttering threats.

For two remaining charges for failing to appear in court Judge Hewson delivered the stiffest sentence possible, adding another 120 days in jail.

With time already served, Konkin will spend just over one year and three months in prison. He will also be put on the sex offenders registry for life, along with other strict probation requirements.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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