Man who repeatedly bashed woman in the head with a hammer during Vancouver break-in gets 7 years

·4 min read
Paul Joseph Doczi pleaded guilty in Vancouver provincial court to aggravated assault and break and enter. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca - image credit)
Paul Joseph Doczi pleaded guilty in Vancouver provincial court to aggravated assault and break and enter. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca - image credit)

Warning: This story contains graphic content.

A burglar who broke into a Vancouver woman's apartment and repeatedly bashed her in the head with a hammer to keep her quiet has been sentenced to seven years behind bars.

With credit for time served, Paul Joseph Doczi's sentence for aggravated assault and break and enter in the vicious 2019 attack has been reduced to about four years and five months, according to a sentencing decision handed down in Vancouver provincial court last week.

In his reasons, Judge Reginald Harris rejected a proposal from Crown prosecutors for a five-year sentence, writing that five years did not adequately reflect the brutality of the crime or Doczi's history of violent offences.

"Mr. Doczi assaulted [the victim] in circumstances where she was not a threat to him, nor did she provoke him, she was unarmed, she was defenceless, she was laying on her bed, and she was trapped in her room," Harris said.

"The assault was prolonged, vicious and for the sole purpose of facilitating an opportunity to steal items."

Most importantly, the judge said, the attack on June 14, 2019, left the victim with "serious physical injuries and deep emotional trauma" that she outlined for the court in victim impact statements.

"Lastly … the offence was committed by a 50-year-old with 61 prior convictions, including convictions for assault and assault with a weapon, thereby confirming that previous interventions by the justice system have failed to protect the public," Harris said.

Attack left victim 'bleeding profusely'

According to the judge's reasons, Doczi entered the woman's ground floor apartment in the West End through her patio door at about 6:20 a.m., while she was asleep.

When she woke up to the sound of a stranger in her bedroom, Doczi pulled out a hammer he had brought with him and began hitting her in the head, telling her to "shut up and not to talk," while she pleaded with him to stop, the judge said.

"Despite this, Mr. Doczi continued to strike her multiple times," Harris wrote. "At one point, [the victim] almost passed out and to stop the attack she curled up into a fetal position, stopped moving and remained silent."

While she lay there, Doczi looked through the apartment for things to steal, ultimately taking two laptops, a backpack and a debit card, before leaving through the front door. He did not stop to help the victim, who was "bleeding profusely," according to the judge.

The victim managed to make her way to a neighbour's apartment, where she found help. At the hospital, doctors treated her for a skull fracture, brain hemorrhaging, a broken left hand and fingers and cuts to her hands and fingers. Her fingers were so swollen that her wedding ring had to be cut off.

'My life is a constant "what if" scenario'

In a victim impact statement presented to the court and quoted in the judge's reasons, the victim said she missed three months of work and her ability to advance in her career has been affected.

"My husband and I spent over a month living outside our home. Once I found the courage to return home, we spent the next month sleeping on a blow-up mattress in our living room in fear of re-entering our bedroom where the accused attacked me," she said.

She wrote that Doczi has taken her sense of security and independence in daily life. She won't walk alone at night or open her patio doors when she's alone.

"There is no amount of therapy or safety cameras that can undo the damage done by the accused. My life is a constant 'what if' scenario. This feeling is heightened by the fact I have welcomed a daughter into this world, and it pains me to think that someone could harm another human like this," she said.

Doczi was arrested one day after the attack, and later pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

As part of his sentence, he will also have to submit a DNA sample and he is banned for life from possessing guns and other weapons.