The Crown prosecutor’s office in Quebec is appealing a judge’s decision to grant a conditional discharge to a Gatineau, Que., man who pleaded guilty to strangling, threatening and assaulting his wife.
A July 27 decision says Joshua Schoo pleaded guilty to the three charges of intimate-partner violence stemming from events that took place in March 2021.
The court documents state that Schoo had started an extramarital affair and had suggested to his spouse of 17 years that she do the same.
However, when she told him she had met someone new he insulted her, threw appliances out of their home and started drinking heavily, before breaking down the door of their bedroom and trying to strangle her while putting a pillow over her face.
Quebec court Judge Serge Laurin opted to give Schoo a conditional discharge, writing that the event was isolated and that a criminal record could cause the man to lose his civil service job and prevent him from visiting his sister in the United States.
Laurin ordered Schoo to serve three years probation, respect a number of conditions and make a $5,000 donation to a community organization.
The Crown, meanwhile, asked for a sentence of six months in jail and two years probation.
While the judge described Schoo’s behaviour as reprehensible, “the court believes that it is not in the public interest that Mr. Schoo loses his job and cannot assure the subsistence of his family,” Laurin wrote.
Laurin also noted that the accused had no history of domestic violence, no criminal record and had expressed remorse and gone to therapy.
In addition to potential job loss and inability to travel, a criminal record would stop Schoo from volunteering at his church, the judge said.
In her impact statement, Schoo’s wife of 17 years said she thought she was going to die during the assault, which she said caused her to suffer from nightmares, anxiety and other psychological impacts.
The court also noted that some of the couple’s four children witnessed the assault, including their 13-year-old daughter, who called 911 to report her father’s attack.
Quebec Crown spokesperson Audrey Roy-Cloutier confirmed Thursday that the case would be appealed, but she did not elaborate.
Last month, the Crown announced it would appeal a judge’s decision to grant a conditional discharge in a separate case to a man who pleaded guilty to sexual assault and voyeurism. Judge Matthieu Poliquin in Trois-Rivières, Que., defended the light sentence, in part because a conviction would make it hard for the accused to travel for his job as an engineer.
That decision led to a protest, a petition and a complaint to Quebec’s judicial council, which is under examination.