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Judge cites 'colonialism' in light sentencing for man who slashed stranger's throat

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Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

A violent offender who slashed the throat of a visually impaired man will avoid federal prison for the crime he committed in mid-2022, according to the Calgary Herald. The judge considered the "history of colonialism" and its effects on the native population as part of his ruling.

A nine-inch gash nearly ended the life a Calgary, Canada, man who was on a light-rail train on his way to work one busy morning, as his throat was cut by a man who allegedly suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD). A "victim impact statement" said doctors told the victim the cut was just one-tenth of an inch away from being fatal, with the man's lawyer calling it “a horrific act of random violence.”

Provincial court Judge Harry Van Harten declined to send the accused to federal prison, instead opting for the maximum provincial jail time of two years (minus time served) plus probation.

According to multiple outlets, the judge cited that the generational trauma that European society has caused to indigenous communities had to be addressed.

“The history of colonialism has to be taken into account,” said the judge.

A statement of agreed facts states the incident happened at about 6:20 a.m. when the man was attacked on a train. The prosecution claims that the attacker told a friend he wanted “to get” a guy before walking up to the victim and attacking him with a utility knife.

“The accused … slashed his throat, dragging his knife from the right side to the left side of [his] neck," said the crown attorney.

The victim claims he is now too afraid to use public transit after the attack, which was his only method of transportation, as his visual impairment prevents him from driving.

According to the the defense lawyer, the justice system has failed by giving the offender over six years in jail time previously, instead of opting for probation. While the prosecution was seeking a four-year sentence in a penitentiary, the judge mostly agreed with the accused's lawyer, allowing him to take part in an FASD program instead of going to prison. This means the attacker will serve another 14 months before being released.

People with fetal alcohol syndrome disorder have a lengthy list of diagnoses, according to the CDC, including the following: intellectual disabilities, problems with behavior and learning, difficulties with math, memory, attention, judgment, and poor impulse control.

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