Natuashish man acquitted of attempted murder

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Nigel Rich of Natuashish was acquitted Wednesday of attempted murder and three other charges.

Rich, 34, was alleged to have stabbed Darren Penunsi numerous times in the face, neck, and hands in Natuashish on Aug. 15, 2018. In his verdict, Chief Justice Raymond P. Whalen said that wasn’t proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Only two people were called as witnesses during the trial, Rich and Penunsi. Penunsi, who spoke through an Innu-amin interpreter, contradicted himself during cross examination and said he didn’t know who stabbed him.

“When directly asked by the crown ‘who stabbed you?’ he directly answered ‘Nigel Rich,’” Whalen said. “On several other occasions during direct examination he identified the accused as the perpetrator.”

“Mr. Penunsi also testified that he had blanks in his memory of that night because he was drunk and upon cross-examination agreed with defence counsel because he was drunk the night in questions, he didn’t know who stabbed him.”

Whalen said another relevant piece of evidence was that Penunsi had initially told police Rich asked him to go into the woods where the stabbing allegedly occurred, but on the stand, Penunsi told the courts it was his idea.

Rich testified he hadn’t seen Penunsi that day, hadn’t stabbed him and gave a detailed account of his whereabouts and movements that night.

He wasn’t arrested until weeks later and told the court he hadn’t turned himself in because he was on probation and was afraid.

Whalen said he didn’t accept that Rich was telling the truth but based on all of the evidence, he wasn’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Rich stabbed Penunsi.

The only description of what happened to Penunsi, Whalen said, was the evidence he gave through a translator.

Whalen said Penunsi appeared to be intimidated by the process of giving evidence, appeared frightened, and shy, and he may have had some comprehension difficulties.

Penunsi suffered numerous wounds in his neck, face, and hands, with one earlobe being cut off. He was airlifted from Natuashish to Happy Valley-Goose Bay due to his injuries and then airlifted to St. John’s for further treatment.

In addition to the charge of attempted murder, the charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and uttering threats against Rich were dismissed.

Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram