A 26-year-old prolific offender will spend 573 days in federal prison for committing what a B.C. Supreme Court Judge described as an “unprovoked and violent attack” outside a convenience store in Williams Lake.
Blake Bob Johnny, was sentenced to a three-year federal term in Williams Lake Supreme Court Tuesday, for stabbing and attempting to steal the truck of a single father in his 50s who had stopped at Comer Store to grab a jug of milk on New Year’s Day 2018.
“It is indeed fortunate the victim was not more seriously injured,” said Judge Marguerite Church during the sentencing.
She said Johnny expressed remorse and regret for his actions and his wish to apologize in person to the victim, who did not attend the court proceedings and said through a victim impact statement he was still afraid from the attack.
Church said while in jail, Johnny has remained sober, completed courses to better himself, and expressed a willingness to attend addictions counselling and address the underlying causes of his alcoholism.
In reviewing his history, Church noted Johnny has had previous involvement with a gang.
In the aggravated assault and attempted robbery conviction this week, Church described how the victim was returning home after work and stopped at the store. He got out of his truck, entered the store, purchased the milk and returned to his vehicle.
He climbed into the driver’s seat, placed the milk on the passenger’s seat, while the driver’s door remained open.
“Mr. Johnny approached the open vehicle door, demanded the keys to the truck,” Church said. “He was armed with a knife and was waving it around.”
When the victim refused to hand over the keys, a scuffle broke out. The victim was cut under the left arm and fell out of the truck at which point Johnny stabbed him once in the lower abdomen. The victim got up, ran into the store and threw his keys toward the cash register as he ran by.
Johnny pursued the victim into the store, still armed with the knife, and continued to try and get the keys.
“A store patron tried to render assistance and staff activated the panic alarm and contacted police,” Church said. “Mr. Johnny fled from the store without obtaining the keys.”
RCMP responded immediately along with BC Emergency Health Services and the victim was transported to the hospital.
Store surveillance footage showed much of the interaction between Johnny and the victim and was provided as evidence in the case.
The victim, who is the sole caregiver for his 14-year-old daughter, did not attend the sentencing hearing held Friday, Jan. 18. or Monday’s sentencing, but requested his impact statements be read out loud during the hearing.
He stated he has not felt safe living in Williams Lake since the incident and is constantly looking over his shoulder and immediately locks his truck when he gets in.
He spent one week in the hospital after the surgery and had to be away from his daughter the whole time, and suffered complications after the surgery and had to return to the hospital for more care.
“I fear for my daughter and always tell her to be careful. If I had died from this I don’t know where she would have went, probably into a foster home,” he stated.
“After the arrest of the person who did this to me, I felt a lot of relief because the person would not get away with it.”
The victim said he is afraid of gang members and was in Kamloops when he saw six people who started swearing and shouting at him.
During the sentencing hearing, Crown counsel Julie Dufour recognized the extensive efforts of police, who went to great lengths to solve the crime, including using forensic evidence, tracking and many police resources to match up footprints found in the snow with that of Johnny.
Dufour said the victim was a “hardworking man, simply buying milk who has experienced trauma.”
More than a dozen police officers attended the sentencing hearing and Dufour said they were in court to see how their hard work pans out in serving the community.
“They know the ripple effects of crime in Williams Lake,” she said.
In September, 2018 Johnny pleaded guilty to the charges, which Church said spared the victim from having to testify.
At Friday’s sentencing hearing, defence counsel Bill Herdy outlined some points from the Gladue Report prepared for Johnny, noting his family is from Tl’etinqox First Nation (Anaham).
After the family home burned down they moved into Williams Lake and by the time Johnny was 13 he was into drugs and alcohol and wasn’t attending school, Herdy said.
“He’s wandered loose since that age with, in my observation, very limited structure in his life.”
Herdy said both the late Indi Johnny, who was shot and killed in 2016, and Delmer Jesse Frank Jr., whose death in 2015 has never been solved, were cousins and friends of Johnny.
Their deaths had a negative impact on Johnny and led to depression and further abuse of drugs and alcohol.
Johnny has been in custody since being arrested in the Comer attack and was given credit for 522 days time served.
Church also imposed a 10-year firearms ban and DNA orders.