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Friday, February 19, 2016

Man Pleads Guilty To Assault

Owen Sound | by Claire McCormack  

Owen Sound man pleads guilty to lesser charge after attack on estranged wife.

Christa Kopp says she can now start the next chapter in her life after her ex husband was sentenced to two years in jail. (photo by Claire McCormack) 

42 year old Michael Shaw of Owen Sound has been sentenced to two years in prison for an assault against his estranged wife in 2012.

Shaw pleaded guilty to the single charge of assault causing bodily harm against Christa Kopp in Owen Sound Superior Court on Thursday.

The court heard on October 28th, 2012 during an exchange of vehicles with Kopp from whom he was separated Shaw attacked her as she was taking items out of her car in the driveway.

The court heard Shaw wrapped a coaxial cable around Kopp's neck from behind and tightened it until she couldn't breathe. He then dragged her to a storage tent and proceeded to push her down and choke her using his hands.

Her son Bradley Shaw, then 14 years old, daughter Haley Shaw, then 17 years old and Haley's boyfriend Kohl Douglas-Strange, then 17 years old -- heard Kopp's screams and rushed to Kopp's aid.

The prosecutor told the court Shaw zipped the storage tent up behind him to keep others away.

Bradley and Haley Shaw attempted to get Shaw off of their mother, and Douglas-Strange was eventually successful in removing Shaw from Kopp who was then unconscious.

The court heard Shaw then entered his house where his son Bradley was trying to call police. Shaw locked the door behind him and pulled the phone his son was using from the wall.

Shaw then barricaded himself in his bedroom, and while reportedly contemplating suicide he took a high-powered rifle from his gun-safe and tried to chamber a round. The gun fired a shot into the ceiling.

Then Shaw left the house and drove to the Owen Sound Police Station where he turned himself in.

Justice C. Conlan told the courtroom Shaw's sentence was based in part, on "the horrific nature of the facts," and an "unprovoked and surprise attack on his spouse" where Justice Conlan said "to add insult to injury he then dragged her like some kind of an animal to the storage shed to presumably finish her off."

Justice Conlan told the court Shaw's guilty plea and the fact that he has no previous record, impacted his sentence to two years in prison and one year probation.

During that time Shaw cannot have any contact with his family or with Douglas-Strange. He must provide a DNA sample and cannot own a firearm for seven years.

Kopp tells Bayshore Broadcasting News she feels relieved to have the publication ban on the case lifted, and is finally able to talk about what happened to her family.

In a victim statement before the court, Kopp read "I'm not the person I was. I'm a shell of who I used to be." She recounts having nightmares of being attacked by Shaw and says her son Bradley struggles daily in the aftermath of the incident.

Daughter Haley Shaw says the sentencing is anticlimactic and without apology from her father. She adds she doesn't think she can ever forgive Shaw for attacking her mother.

Shaw and Kopp had been married for 19 years.

A police report shows that weeks before the incident, on October 3rd 2012, Kopp contacted Owen Sound Police with concerns for Shaw's well-being after he made comments about suicide and left the house. Police took Shaw to hospital and he was treated for depression. The couple separated at that time.

Shaw's defence told the court his client struggled with medication he was given for depression and that it had adverse affects on his mental state.

Justice Conlan told the court Shaw's sentence was also based on a need to denounce, deter and send a message that violence against a spouse whether clouded by medication or not would not be tolerated.

Shaw was initially charged with attempted murder but instead pleaded guilty to a single count of assault causing bodily harm.

Kopp says Shaw worked for Bruce Power and the family has been living on government financial assistance since 2012, using the food bank and social support services while checking the calendar to see when money will be coming in.  

Kopp says her family has been waiting in fear during each day Shaw was out on bail and adds "At this moment I feel safe. Now I can truly put this behind me, and hopefully start my life over again."




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