Ram Naresh Prasad, 76, pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon and uttering a death threat in relation to an incident at the Elijah Smith Building in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 13, 2017. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse man sentenced to house arrest after threatening coworker with axe

Ram Naresh Prasad pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon and uttering death threats

A Yukon man who pleaded guilty to holding an axe near his coworker’s neck and threatening to kill her after she complained about him to their supervisor has been sentenced to 12 months of house arrest followed by 18 months of probation.

Ram Naresh Prasad, 76, pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon and uttering a death threat in relation to an incident at the Elijah Smith Building in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 13, 2017, according to written decision by Yukon Territorial Court Judge Peter Chisholm, released June 1.

At the time of the crimes, Prasad had been a long-time commissionaire at the building and got into a fight with a coworker and fellow commissionaire, Shirley Baumung, over the “scope of his duties,” the decision says. Baumung eventually phoned an off-site supervisor to complain about Prasad, something that “clearly upset” him.

Prasad finished his shift and went home, but “contrary to his routine,” then drank some hard liquor and returned to the Elijah Smith Building “with a small bottle of alcohol and an axe concealed in a garbage bag.” There, Prasad “confronted” Baumung at the Commissionaire’s desk, taking the axe out of his bag, holding it near her neck and screaming profanities and threats to cut her head off.

Two people eventually intervened, during which Baumung escaped, and police arrived and arrested Prasad.

The Crown requested a 15 to 18-month-long jail sentence for Prasad and a three-year probation order, while the defence argued a lesser sentence served in the community was more appropriate.

In deciding sentencing, Chisholm noted the clear “negative effects” Prasad’s actions had on Baumung, writing that the incident left her feeling unsafe and wary of others, to the point that she changed her work schedule to “avoid being outside of her workplace in the dark and risking the chance of running in to Mr. Prasad.”

The judge also noted that Prasad, prior to the incident, did not have a previous criminal record, “enjoyed a successful working career” and was “actively involved in the Whitehorse community,” volunteering for, among others, the Whitehorse Food Bank, Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition and the Canadian Filipino Association of Yukon.

As well, Prasad “acknowledged the inappropriateness of his criminal acts” during the preparation of his pre-sentencing report, Chisholm wrote, but, at the same time, continued to “express a strong dislike for the victim” and described the victim in a manner that was “wholly inappropriate.”

However, Chisholm found that the incident was “by all accounts completely out of character” for Prasad and that he was at low risk of re-offending. He ultimately sentenced him to a 12-month conditional sentence for the assault, during which Prasad must remain inside his residence for the first half except with the permission of a supervisor and abide by a curfew for the other, followed by 18 months of probation. The judge also sentenced Prasad to a one-month conditional sentence for the utter threats conviction, to be served concurrently, and ordered him to pay $200 in victim surcharges.

Prasad must also comply with several other conditions, including keeping the peace, performing 75 hours of community work, not contacting Baumung and, during his conditional sentence, not possessing or consuming alcohol.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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