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Man behind machete attack sentenced to four years

Oct 07 2012

A Victoria man who planned and participated in a horrendous assault with a machete has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Kristopher Dobell, 22, pleaded guilty in June to the aggravated assault of Daniel Phelps at a Wark Street apartment in November 2011. Court heard the attack was a drug trade retaliation against Phelps, who had stolen $40,000 from Dobell.

"As a former prosecutor and judge, I'm very much aware that there's a lawless world operating within civilized society," said Victoria provincial court Judge Ernie Quantz on Friday.

"The basic tenants of this world are that once you're engaged in the drug subculture, you'll never go the police no matter what. It creates a mindset that people are immune from the law, and people perpetrate extreme acts of violence believing they will never be held accountable. But the laws of society apply to everyone."

Prosecutor Dan Scanlan and Dobell's defence lawyer, Tom Morino, made a joint submission asking Quantz to impose a four-year sentence. Quantz gave Dobell credit for the 10 months he has spent in custody. This means he must serve a further 38 months.

At the sentencing hearing, Scanlan told the court that Dobell and his friend Brandon Shusterman arrived at the apartment where Phelps was staying, carrying machetes and a hammer, on the afternoon of Nov. 26, 2011. They told the man renting the apartment - whose name is protected by a court order - that the machetes were just to scare Phelps and "they would beat him up a little bit, perhaps break one of his fingers," Scanlan said.

The tenant left his apartment. When he returned, Phelps was being carried out on a stretcher. Phelps spent three days in hospital after the attack, being treated for lacerations on his leg, face and upper right arm. The most significant wound was a 30-centimetre laceration on his lower back.

"While none of his injuries was life-threatening, that was due to early treatment at the hospital," Scan-lan said.

Phelps has never co-operated with the police and left the province, said Scanlan.

After his arrest, Dobell told an undercover officer about chopping Phelps with a machete, Scanlan said.

Morino agreed that the attack was planned, but said the situation escalated beyond what was originally intended.

Dobell is relatively young and has a limited record of violence, Morino said. His guilty plea was genuine and made before any evidence was called or DNA results were complete.

Dobell's mother and grandparents are present in court and remain very supportive, Morino told Quantz.

"Given the nature of the offence, it's likely Dobell can expect to be placed in a facility like Kent," said Morino, referring to the maximum security penitentiary. "At this young age, it will no doubt be a difficult time for him."

Dobell, a tall man with short brown hair and a large Chinese tattoo on the left side of his neck, did not wish to say anything to the court.

"I can only hope after you've served your sentence, you'll get out of this culture," Quantz said.

Dobell has been ordered to submit a sample of his DNA. He is also prohibited from owning weapons for 10 years after his release from prison.

His co-accused, Brandon Shusterman, was acquitted by a Supreme Court justice last week.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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