Defence calls farmer to testify at Clinton McLaughlin's domestic assault trial in Saskatoon

·3 min read
Clinton James McLaughlin, right, walks behind his defence lawyer Nicholas ​​Stooshinoff on their way to attend the second day of McLaughlin's domestic assault trial.  (CBC - image credit)
Clinton James McLaughlin, right, walks behind his defence lawyer Nicholas ​​Stooshinoff on their way to attend the second day of McLaughlin's domestic assault trial. (CBC - image credit)

The trial of Clinton James McLaughlin has been adjourned until the new year after three days of testimony at Saskatoon's provincial court.

McLaughlin is accused of assaulting, choking and confining his ex-girlfriend, and also of stealing her handguns, in 2020.

On Wednesday, defence lawyer Nicholas Stooshinoff advised the court that McLaughlin would not be testifying. He called a farmer, Joseph Paul Marciniuk, as the defence's only witness at the judge-alone trial.

Marciniuk's family has a farm east of Saskatoon, right by McLaughlin's family farm.

Court heard Marciniuk helped keep an eye on the McLaughlin's dogs. He said he would text back and forth with McLaughlin's girlfriend in 2020 about how the dogs were doing and to make arrangements for the animals.

Marciniuk said he saw the couple briefly on the day of the alleged assault.

On Monday, the woman told the court McLaughlin took her handguns without her permission while she was away from her Saskatoon home on Nov. 10, 2020.

She said about one month later on Dec. 5, 2020, she believed McLaughlin was going to give them back while they picked up the two dogs from the farm.

The woman said McLaughlin became aggressive during the trip out to the farm, accusing her of cheating on him. She said he stopped the truck in two remote locations, allegedly choking her and refusing to let her leave the truck.

She told the court this happened right before they picked up the dogs.

Marciniuk testified that he "didn't notice anything out of the ordinary" about his interaction with the couple.

"I didn't notice any tension," he said, describing the encounter as "unremarkable."

He testified that he didn't notice if the woman's hair was "messed up or tangled," or her clothing in disarray, or if McLaughlin appeared agitated.

When asked about what the couple was wearing, he said he thought the woman was wearing a jacket and McLaughlin sweat pants.

"That's the best of my recollection, because I wasn't paying attention to that," he said.

During cross examination, Crown prosecutor John Knox suggested he wasn't paying much attention to the interaction because it was just an ordinary day out on the farm for him.

"Yes sir," he agreed.

Marciniuk told the court he didn't realize something may have been amiss between the couple until days later when he saw a news story that discussed allegation against McLaughlin.

The defence has suggested the allegations of abuse and theft were fabricated as part of an ongoing dispute about access to one of the woman's children and to support her efforts to remove his name from that child's birth certificate.

Court heard his name was on the document, even though he wasn't the biological father.

Prosecutor Knox called the woman and her daughter as Crown witnesses at the trial. The complainant insisted that the assault and theft did take place.

She told the court that McLaughlin choked her multiple times, saying "I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was going to die."

Her teenage daughter testified that she saw McLaughlin remove the boxes that held the handguns out of her mother's home.

McLaughlin was previously sentenced, in 2014, to six years in prison for kidnapping and assaultThat trial heard that McLaughlin had a history of violence with women dating back to 2003.

The judge in that matter noted McLaughlin's repeated violence against women and called the pattern of abuse "disturbing."

His criminal history was not addressed during testimony at the trial this week.

Proceedings have been adjourned until January 2023.

The lawyers have requested transcripts of the trial to prepare their arguments.