A Chilliwack man who lost his temper over an off-leash dog avoided jail time, but does face a year of probation.
Following a trial last summer, David John Ledgerwood was found guilty of two charges, one count of uttering threats to kill an animal or bird and one count of uttering threats to cause bodily harm or death. Judge Peter Whyte handed down a suspended sentence Tuesday (Jan. 3) at the Chilliwack Law Courts.
Crown had been asking for seven days jail time or a 14-day conditional sentence to be served in the community.
“Do you need to go to jail to hit home to you, to denounce your conduct and deter others who might be tempted to let their tempers get the better of them? Or is there another sanction less than incarceration that is sufficient to meet the needs of denunciation and deterrence?” Whyte said. “I think the effect of a trial and conviction and the stress that’s been engendered by that has a deterrent effect.”
The incident that landed Ledgerwood in court happened Aug. 27, 2021.
The victim was at Jinkerson Park with other people and his dog was off leash. Ledgerwood approached on a BMX bike. According to the judge, the two got into a verbal altercation and Ledgerwood said several things to the victim, including the suggestion that he would beat up or kill the dog.
The victim was recovering from a broken leg at the time, and Ledgerwood said that he didn’t care about the broken leg, he would break the other one too. He also threatened to break the victim’s head or face.
Ledgerwood denied the allegations at trial and continued to deny them at sentencing. Representing himself, he said the court had failed him.
The victim, a trauma nurse, was off work at the time, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In a victim impact statement, he told the court that the incident set back his recovery and he described the altercation as “extremely triggering.”
When triggered, he said he suffers from depression and anxiety which affects his relationship with his wife and diminishes his motivation and focus on tasks, socialising and exercise. The victim said walking his dog used to be a strong coping mechanism for dealing with PTSD, but he said it’s now stressful, triggering and draining because he’s “continually on high alert.”
Because both men live in the Jinkerson neighbourhood, the victim said he’s fearful for the safety of himself, his wife and his dog.
Ledgerwood does not have a lengthy criminal record, with only a couple minor offences dating back to the early 1990s, and he’s stuck to bail conditions over the last year and a half. But the victim’s concerns are addressed in the probation conditions, which include a 12-month ban from Jinkerson Park. Ledgerwood will have to stay a minimum 50 metres away from the victim’s home and there is a total non-contact order in effect. There is also a weapons ban.
Judge Whyte declined to order anger counselling, saying there’s little point if Ledgerwood doesn’t believe he did anything wrong.