Four month sentence for St. Clair officer assault

·3 min read

A Corunna man received 120 days confinement for attacking an OPP officer during a domestic call last year.

But since Michael Clayton, 42, was granted a conditional sentence he’ll be able to serve the time at home with a curfew. Justice Anne McFadyen accepted a joint submission that concluded a non-penitentiary sentence would better help him address underlying addiction issues.

Domestic disputes involving Clayton were nothing new; OPP officers were well experienced with calls to the Ashwood Court home that took place every few months. Clayton’s mother and brother lived there and often required police assistance when Clayton would drink and become combative. He’d been arrested on multiple occasions and always struggled with police and paramedics.

Another call came the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2020 after Clayton tried to fight his brother. He’d also taken several sleeping pills. The responding officer was met by a hostile Clayton who shoved him into a closet after he called for paramedics.

The officer hit Clayton several times in the face and wrestled him to the ground. In response Clayton spat in his eye. The officer says he was temporarily blinded.

Clayton then ordered his dog to attack the officer, which it did. The officer’s partner came inside and fended off the dog while the original officer finally brought the confrontation to an end by tasering Clayton multiple times.

“I would never intentionally put my hands on an officer. I was going through a mental health crisis and have no recollection of that day,” says Clayton after hearing a retelling of the incident in court Oct. 25.

“I had no malicious intent… I do take responsibility and I do apologize for that,” he says.

Clayton also admitted to a bail breach and later a mischief charge resulting from another family dispute in April this year. After police removed him from his mother’s home he threatened the officer and was taken to the Sarnia police station. Clayton, who was highly intoxicated, then urinated all over his cell while giving the finger to a surveillance camera.

“These offences and his criminal record indicate someone with a longstanding problem with alcohol. And he does not deny that,” says Defence Lawyer Luigi Perzia. He says Clayton suffered a head injury in a car accident years ago leading to depression, anxiety and alcohol addiction.

Perzia says terms of the conditional sentence requiring counselling for substance abuse and mental health will assist with these issues.

“It’s a balance between recognition that this is a substance and mental health medical concern and a recognition that incarceration is appropriate and he needs to maintain his behaviour going forward,” says Perzia.

Crown Attorney Nila Mulpuru says Clayton’s criminal record – which includes prior convictions for assault, uttering threats and resisting arrest – was a main factor in pursuing a lengthier sentence. He also hasn’t taken any recent steps to address his alcohol problem.

But Mulpuru noted he still has his mother’s support and seems “prepared to take this conditional sentence and probation order seriously and use it as an opportunity to meaningfully address these longstanding issues he has.”

Justice Anne McFadyen accepted the 120 day home sentence followed by 12 months probation. Both include the counselling terms along with several people and places Clayton can’t contact or go near. He’ll be off curfew for probation but must submit DNA and observe a five year weapons ban.

Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent

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