HALIFAX — A former member of the Canadian military who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder has been sentenced to four years in prison for choking his 17-year-old daughter until he thought she was dead.
Robin Andrew Clifford of New Glasgow, N.S., was originally charged with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
Clifford had admitted saying to his daughter: “I wish you would … die already.” He also told police he had been thinking about stabbing her.
One psychologist told the court that Clifford’s mental illness appears to be linked to his career with the Canadian Armed Forces.
Nova Scotia provincial court Judge Del Atwood said the 45-year-old had experienced a tragic life after he left the military. He was later diagnosed with PTSD, a major depressive disorder and a panic disorder associated with agoraphobia — the irrational fear of crowded spaces.
“His years in military service were very tough,” Atwood said in his decision. “Mr. Clifford’s civilian life has been very unhappy, and it affected his family profoundly.”
Clifford and his wife separated in April 2013, the judge said.
Court heard Clifford and his daughter were smoking marijuana on Nov. 30, 2014, when an argument ensued. Clifford later told police he pushed her off a chair, placed his hands around her throat and tried to choke her to death.
When he thought she was dead, he called 911 and told police he was sure he had killed the teen.
The girl has since fully recovered from the attack.
The judge said there were several mitigating factors in the case, including Clifford’s lack of a criminal record, his honourable discharge from the military, his co-operation with police and a pre-sentence report that indicated his actions were out of character.
As well, a psychologist assessed Clifford as a low risk to reoffend in a violent way.
However, the judge said that attacking someone under the age of 18 was an aggravating factor.
Both the Crown and defence recommended a four-year sentence, which the judge accepted, saying Clifford would receive 90 days credit for time already served.