By Dale Boyd
A South Okanagan man is awaiting his sentence after assaulting a Cawston woman in her home last year.
Jason Hibbs, 38, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to single counts of assault with a weapon and break and enter to commit an offence. He faces up to two years in jail for the crimes.
Judge Michelle Daneliuk heard sentencing submissions Oct. 28 in provincial court in Penticton and reserved her decision for an unspecified future date.
On April 17, 2018 the victim, whom the Osoyoos Times has decided not to name, called RCMP at 9:42 p.m. to report that Hibbs had broken into her home. The victim refused to allow Hibbs in after he had banged on multiple doors and windows.
Hibbs forced the door open, breaking the door frame, and assaulted the woman inside her bedroom, where she had attempted to hide.
“He crumpled (the victim’s) glasses, her reading glasses, and wanted to see the victim’s phone to see who she was calling. He then grabbed her hair with his left hand and placed his right hand around her throat,” said Crown counsel Andrew Vandersluys.
Hibbs threatened to kill the victim and demanded to see her phone during the altercation, court heard.
The victim managed to kick Hibbs off of her, after which he threatened to cut the her while brandishing a pocket knife, Crown said.
“She said ‘I thought I was dead.’ She deescalated Mr. Hibbs with a cold beer and offering to talk to him. She was then able to lock herself in the bathroom and call 911,” Vandersluys said.
Hibbs had fled the scene at the Cawston residence when RCMP had arrived. Police later located him at his residence in Cawston where Hibbs was arrested. Police reported Hibbs smelled strongly of liquor and found him in possession of the small pocket knife used to threaten the victim
According to the victim “Mr. Hibbs had never acted like this before,” Vandersluys said. “However, about a year ago he had confessed to her that he had feelings for her.”
Hibbs and the victim were former coworkers in the Cawston area and she, her husband and Gibbs had been friends for roughly two years. Hibbs left many threatening voicemails in the past while drunk, usually apologizing after the fact, court heard.
“He had tried to kiss her once and said he would wait forever until (her husband) was gone,” Vandersluys said. “He left messages for her in the past as well saying he loves her and how he will treat her well. The previous Christmas he had threatened to beat up her husband.”
On June 25, while on bail for the assault and break-in and under court orders not to contact the victim, Hibbs called 911 asking dispatchers to get in touch with the victim “as a joke.”
“Mr. Hibbs was apparently, to the dispatch operator, too intoxicated to come up with a valid reason why,” Vandersluys said.
Crown is seeking a two-year sentence in federal prison, with a three year probation order following his release.
Defence counsel Michael Patterson argued the violent incident was a lapse for Hibbs, who has no prior criminal history but a long history with alcoholism.
“His alcoholism has got the better of him, and hence he has committed this egregious crime. In my submission he has made a mess of his bail by the phone call that he made,” Patterson said.
However, Patterson argued the first-time offender should not face near-maximum penalties for his crime. Patterson is seeking a 90-day, intermittent sentence followed by two years of probation including a period of house arrest.
“This is a first-time offender. A 90-day, intermittent sentence would act as a short, sharp, shock treatment for Mr. Hibbs and keep him honest to the promises made to the court, which is basically to seek assistance for the underlying cause of his offence, which is alcohol,” Patterson said.
Hibbs apologized for his actions, speaking to the court Monday.
“I’m terribly sorry for everything. I’m mad at my own person. I’ve never hurt anybody, I don’t rob, I don’t do B-and-Es, I’m a hard-working man,” Hibbs said.
Hibbs said he would not be returning to Cawston and is no longer residing in the South Okanagan community.
“What I did made me realize what a hole I’m digging for the rest of my life,” Hibbs said.