A Sarnia man faces a lengthy probation after pleading guilty to ambushing a romantic rival.
Matthew Sylvester, 20, plead guilty in March to assaulting another man with a long knife last November. The Crown referred to the weapon as “machete-style,” and the victim said the blade was more than a foot long.
The reason for the attack: a dispute over a woman. Sylvester learned a friend of his had been involved with a woman he’d previously dated. When Sylvester’s friend learned he was upset he reached out to apologize and believed the matter resolved.
But Sylvester wasn’t satisfied with the situation. During a late-night hangout with friends at his Michigan Avenue home Sylvester asked the man to help him take the trash out to the road. The pair went outside but upon lifting the garbage can the friend found it empty.
Sylvester’s request for help with the chore had been a trap. As soon as his friend turned around he was struck in the face with the weapon, stunning him. Sylvester continued to strike him in the face causing lacerations to his nose and cheek. The man recovered and ran around a truck in the driveway, allowing time for other friends in the house to come out and subdue Sylvester.
Sylvester returned to court May 11 for sentencing where the Crown pushed for a conditional sentence. “This was an assault against a friend of a violent nature resulting in significant laceration injuries to that individual,” says Crown Attorney David Nicol. The victim was taken to Bluewater Health where he received several stitches to repair his lacerated nose and cheek.
Nicol says despite Sylvester’s belief his friend had betrayed him, “the response, including this assault against the victim, is wholly inappropriate and requires the denunciation that a conditional sentence more properly imposes as opposed to simply a probation order.”
A probation order was the counter offer from Defence Lawyer Don Henderson. “What he did on the night in question was a stupid thing… He appears to have been upset because of the response of this individual,” he says. Henderson added Sylvester says the man wasn’t “being apologetic or remorseful for what had occurred.”
“His remorse is obvious,” says Henderson of his client's conduct. “To say that there’s a necessity for the public interest for him to be made an example of because of his actions… seems not to really grasp what took place on a very spur of the moment decision.”
But Justice Krista Leszczynski felt there were enough aggravating factors to warrant the more serious sentence. “This was an unprovoked attack by Mr. Sylvester against a friend. It involves the use of a knife, the attack itself is not just one strike but rather multiple strikes to the victim’s face and it caused significant injury to the victim’s face,” she says.
“Because it involves violence… it is one that requires a form of denunciation in the form of a custodial sentence,” says Leszczynski. “I’m not satisfied that a suspended sentence in these circumstances is fit and appropriate. Rather a conditional sentence order is much more appropriate.”
This means Sylvester will serve the first six months of his punishment under strict conditions. He’ll be under house arrest for four months and a 10 pm to 6 am curfew for the final two. Sylvester can't have any drugs or alcohol during thie time. After that he’ll begin a year of probation.
Leszczynski also ordered anger management and wellness counselling for Sylvester during the 18 months. He receives a 10 year weapons ban, will submit a DNA order, can’t contact or go near the victim and forfeits the knife.
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent