A Lake Country man will serve two-and-a-half years in prison for the brutal assault of a woman. The matter has made headlines in Kelowna over the past year due to alleged inappropriate messages sent from the RCMP’s lead investigator in the case to the victim.
Lonnie Noel Smith, 42, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and two counts of uttering threats on Tuesday, Nov. 17. He was initially facing eight charges, but charges of unlawful confinement; sexual assault; administering noxious thing with intent to endanger; unauthorized possession of non-firearm; and uttering threats to burn, destroy or damage; were stayed as the proceedings concluded.
Sentencing occurred immediately after the pleas were entered and the court accepted a joint submission on sentencing from the Crown and defence lawyers that will see Smith spend the next two-and-a-half years behind bars for the attack which took place intermittently over a 12-hour period on April 21 and 22, 2018.
Crown prosecutor Alex Burton read a statement of facts to the court, agreed upon by both Smith and the Crown.
On April 21, 2018, after a night of drinking and doing cocaine, Smith began a brutal assault on the woman that lasted the course of two days, leaving her with several lasting injuries. Amid the various assaults throughout the night, Smith choked her until she passed out two separate times, twice dislocated her shoulder and left her bloody and battered with several blows.
Waking up the next day and seeing what he’d done, Smith became suicidal. He called another person, asking them to get the woman to the hospital, while he consumed a number of pills in an attempt to kill himself, the court heard.
The person called 911 and two RCMP officers quickly responded. Upon their arrival, they found the woman severely beaten and Smith delirious and incoherent on whatever substance he had taken.
Smith was arrested and both were taken to Kelowna General Hospital for treatment. A doctor’s report noted the woman had brain bleeds, a head fracture, a torn rotator cuff and several broken bones in her face.
To this day, the woman still suffers from nerve damage, permanent loss of smell and taste, and loss of mobility in her shoulder.
Burton said the Crown likely would’ve sought a harsher sentence if it weren’t for external complications.
Those complications centre around the actions of Kelowna Mountie and lead investigator Const. Sean Eckland, who allegedly sent sexually explicit text messages to the victim after the incident occurred. Eckland remains suspended from the RCMP. These allegations have not been proven in court.
Following the revelation of the inappropriate communications, Smith withdrew his initial guilty plea — which he made in Nov. 2019 to aggravated assault and unlawful confinement — in July. Those communications were mentioned only briefly during the sentencing hearing when Burton referred to them as “improper communications between the complainant and police.”
The complainant also recanted her initial complaint to the police before subsequently changing her mind and reconfirming her statement, adding another snag in the proceedings.
Smith had no prior convictions and his defence lawyer said he has been gainfully employed since his initial incarceration on the matter. He also mentioned that Smith is a recovering alcoholic and in the months leading up to the assault, he had relapsed.
With advanced credit for time already served, Smith has 28.5 months left in his sentence.
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