EDMONTON — An Edmonton man who assaulted a stranger sleeping on a bus has been handed a conditional sentence.
Aaron James Cheechuk, 24, pleaded guilty Wednesday to assault and uttering death threats for the attack on Sept. 19, 2008.
Provincial court Judge Larry Anderson said random attacks on public transit cannot be tolerated.
But the judge ruled Cheechuk could serve his nine-month conditional sentence in the community so he can continue to take treatment for alcoholism as well as get help for his underlying issues.
Crown prosecutor Brendan Gaunt told court that Cheechuk punched Karlando White in the face several times, slammed him into his seat, then grabbed two handfuls of White’s dreadlocks so hard they came out of White’s head.
Gaunt sought a jail term of between six to eight months, calling it a “random, unprovoked attack on a stranger who is taking transit and asleep.”
He noted there have been several recent attacks on city buses.
Two paramedics found Cheechuk lying on the ground and asked if he needed help.
Cheechuk then stated: “I have a knife and I will kill anyone in my path. I want to die,” and threatened to stab White in the throat, using a racist slur, said Gaunt.
When arrested, Cheechuk was heavily intoxicated and court heard he has no recollection of the attack.
Defence lawyer Ron Morin told court Cheechuk accepts he is a “true alcoholic” and is seeking help, saying he has recently completed a course at a drug rehabilitation centre and is living there.
The judge told Cheechuk he must stay at the rehabilitation centre during his conditional sentence and abide by all rules. He must also have a psychiatric assessment done.
He was also placed on 18 months probation.