Violent Vernon domestic abuse case takes worrying turn - InfoNews

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Violent Vernon domestic abuse case takes worrying turn

February 06, 2020 - 6:00 PM

A domestic abuse case took a disturbing turn in court yesterday, Feb. 5, with the revelation the convicted North Okanagan man is HIV positive.

The revelation came during routine submissions from the defence during the sentencing of James Robert Peacock who was found guilty at an earlier trial for attacking his former partner with significant violence.

"I am concerned this is the first the Crown has heard that Mr. Peacock is HIV positive," Crown prosecutor Margaret Cissell told the court. 

It's unclear whether Peacock's former partner knew he was HIV positive, and the revelation could lead to further charges against the 32-year-old.

While the Canadian Criminal Code does not require a person to disclose they are HIV positive in every case, the law does require a person to disclose they are HIV positive if sexual activity poses a “realistic possibility of transmission.” This is measured by the viral load of HIV in a person's blood.

While Peacock will spend another 21 days behind bars for attacking his former partner, he is also due to stand trial in Vernon tomorrow, Feb. 7, facing more charges of domestic violence against another partner. These events took place prior to the events discussed in the Vernon courtroom Feb. 5.

Peacock was originally charged with assault, assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and attempting to choke his former partner. He was found guilty during an earlier trial of assault and assault causing bodily harm.

The violence was all inflicted on his former partner during their short relationship. The charge of attempting to choke her was not proven in court and dismissed by the judge. It appears that throughout the hearing, Peacock's HIV status was never mentioned.

During the sentencing, the court heard Peacock had moved in with his former partner to save on rent and had a short relationship - details have been left purposely vague to protect her identity.

Judge Richard Hewson said that during a two-month period, three serious incidents had taken place and through violence, he asserted control over his partner. At one point when she wanted to leave, he dragged her back into the North Okanagan property by her legs. Another time during an argument, he burned her with a cigarette while trying to close a window so their neighbours wouldn't hear them arguing. Another incident left her with serious bruises.

"(Peacock) tried to control her (by) putting his hand over her mouth, and in the course of doing that her nose was bloodied," Judge Hewson said.

The court heard Peacock had been using crystal meth and alcohol on a daily basis and had failed to address his addictions. The court also heard he was "frequently physically abused" by his father while growing up.

In arguing for 12 to 16 months jail time, Crown counsel said the abuse was not "a private matter" between the two.

"Society has a deep interest in domestic violence and ending (it)," Cissell said. "What's serious here is the physical violence Mr. Peacock demonstrated against the person that in theory he should care for, love, and entrust."

Dressed in red prison garb, Peacock stood in the dock and told the court he was remorseful and requested he received drug and alcohol treatment.

Peacock made a quick reference to being HIV positive saying he saw a specialist locally but he did not mention whether he had told his partner or not.

While defence lawyer Nicholas Jacob had told the court his client "struggles with HIV," his submissions focussed on the absence of violence in Peacock's record and how his client wanted to attend drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Jacob argued to a 30- to 60-day jail sentence.

Judge Hewson sentenced Peacock to nine months jail time, followed by 24 months probation that included a variety of conditions including mandatory substance abuse counselling. With time already served, Peacock will spend another 21 days behind bars on these charges.

— This story was edited at 12:01 p.m. Feb. 7.


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