Yukon’s top judge denounces domestic violence

Supreme Court Judge Ron Veale sent a clear message to Yukoners last Friday: that domestic violence will not be taken lightly.

Supreme Court Judge Ron Veale sent a clear message to Yukoners last Friday: that domestic violence will not be taken lightly.

He overturned a lower court decision that discharged a former Whitehorse jail officer for assaulting his former wife. He did not receive a criminal record and was given a probation period of 15 months.

In October last year, the territorial court found Troy Alex Mackenzie guilty of assaulting Melanie Jensen and violating his probation conditions by making contact with her three times during the course of the trial.

Mackenzie put Jensen in a “chokehold,” but did not cut off her breathing on Aug. 31, 2011, according to court documents. He did this in front of her children.

He broke his court orders on three separate occasions in the span of three weeks in September 2011. He phoned Jensen repeatedly between September 3rd and 4th. He appeared at her residence and made threats on her children. And he yelled at her at the local Superstore, saying he would “beat the crap” out of a guy who was picking her up.

It’s not the first time Mackenzie faced the courts. In 1995, he was also conditionally discharged for an assault without a criminal record.

Mackenzie maintained he was not guilty throughout the trial.

Being that a criminal record would impact Mackenzie’s job and he had a clean track record, judge Michael Cozens, who presided over the case, said that a jail sentence was not necessary. Cozens also noted that Mackenzie was in counseling for his obsessive compulsive disorder and alcohol consumption.

His conditional discharge would be in Mackenzie’s “best interest,” and “not contrary to public interest,” Cozens stated in the court document.

“Mr. Mackenzie, this is an opportunity, for a second time, to avoid a criminal conviction. I am confident that you can, as you did before, complete this (probation) without problems,” Cozens said at the trial, according to the case document.

But Crown prosecutor Noel Sinclair did not agree with the sentence. He appealed Cozens’s decision.

“You’re not going to get a light touch if you are found guilty of those things and you don’t show any remorse for your behaviour,” Sinclair said. A message must be sent not just to the offender, but to the public to denounce domestic violence, he said.

Veale agreed. Mackenzie’s denial of responsibility precluded him from being accepted into a spousal abuse program, one of which being the Domestic Violence Treatment Option. The creation of such a program by the territorial court and Yukon government goes to show how prevalent domestic violence is in the Yukon, stated Veale in court document.

“This does not mean Mr. Mackenzie should be penalized for not pursuing the Domestic Violence Treatment Option, but it does attest to the importance of taking responsibility in domestic violence cases in Yukon,” Veale said.

Veale cited the high rates of domestic violence in Yukon, which is almost three times higher than the rest of Canada.

He blames the “macho, frontier-mentality” and high rates of alcohol consumption for the death of at least 10 Yukon women who died at the hands of their partners.

“In my view, granting a conditional discharge in the circumstances of this case is contrary to public interest and a demonstrably unfit sentence,” said Veale.

Mackenzie is now convicted with a criminal record and must serve an extra seven months of probation.

Contact Krystle Alarcon at

krystlea@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Eric Schroff, executive director with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, poses for a portrait on Feb. 20. Schroff says he is puzzled as to why the Yukon government is cutting back on funding for the association. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
YG cuts Yukon Fish and Game Association funding, tried to vet outgoing communications

Yukon Fish and Game Association says 25 per cent government funding cut will impact operations

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 27, 2020

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Most Read