‘She is not your property’ judge tells man sentenced to 30 days for punching wife repeatedly

Saskatchewan Provincial Court in Prince Albert. -- Herald File Photo

A man will receive an additional 30 days in jail for beating his girlfriend in a parking lot.

Frank Ballantyne , 36, was in court Friday for an incident that left his girlfriend with a black eye and a swollen face. He had originally pleaded not guilty, but on Friday, he changed his plea to guilty with the hope of quickly concluding the judicial process, as he has a young daughter in the hospital and he wants to be by her side.

He pleaded guilty to one count of assault.

According to an agreed statement of facts, the incident happened in Prince Albert on April 12. The pair was driving around the community with some acquaintances looking to buy some crystal meth. They had been on a drug binge and had been awake and high on crystal meth for a few days.

The court heard that Ballantyne became angered with the way the woman was looking at another man in the car. He grabbed her hair and tried to force her out of the vehicle. She attempted to flag down passing vehicles, but had no luck. At a stop, the other occupants exited the vehicle. Ballantyne, who was in the driver’s seat, began hitting the woman, who was in the passenger seat, punching her in the face and jaw several times.

The woman got out and walked home, reporting the crime to the Prince Albert Police.

According to his defence lawyer, Greg Chovin, Ballantyne only has about a third grade education and grew up in Flin Flon with no relationship with his parents. He was raised by his grandparents in a situation where there was alcohol abuse.

Ballantyne attended residential school in Prince Albert from 1990 to 1995, and has a claim. He was also subject to frequent physical, emotional and sexual abuse. He has been on his own since he was about 12 or 13 years old, and began dealing with substance abuse problems of his own from a young age.

According to Chovin, Ballantyne had a child with the female complainant he struck in the car. That child was born with a cyst on her voice box that has led to difficulties breathing. The child, now about five months old, has been in an Edmonton hospital for her entire life, and she is not doing well at all. The child’s mother is with her in Edmonton.

Ballantyne and the woman want to continue to have a relationship in some form for the sake of their daughter, Chovin said.

Ballantyne has indicated a willingness to attend treatment to fight his addiction in order to be there for his daughter.

The defence asked for probation and a suspended sentence, while the Crown wanted three months and $1,000 of restitution for damaged clothing and makeup.

Judge Mackenzie settled on 30 days.

He turned to Ballantyne, and spoke purposefully.

“There is not much in life that is certain, but I know one thing that is certain. Crystal meth will kill you. That is not negotiable.”

He also had stern words for Ballantyne about his decision to beat his girlfriend.

“You don’t own this woman,” MacKenzie said.

“She is not your property. She can see who she likes, she can do what she likes.”
He concluded his message for Ballantyne with the concern that he was not showing much care for his daughter, as when she was two months old he was not in Edmonton. Rather, he was driving around the city looking for drugs.

“I don’t see much care going on.”

As a part of his conditions, Ballantyne is to refrain from consuming drugs or alcohol. He is also to enter counselling.

Mackenzie also added the unique provision that if either Ballantyne or the woman are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are forbidden from being in contact with each other. Chovin argued against the clause, but the judge stood his ground.

“If either of you are high, you are not looking after the baby. If she is high, she will not be behaving rationally,” he said.

He agreed that Ballantyne cannot control what the woman does. It doesn’t matter, Mackenzie said. If she is under the influence, Ballantyne has to leave.

“We always have control over what our response is,” he said.