Ontario woman convicted of aggravated assault for punching blind boyfriend in eye

Duperron was charged with aggravated assault because she was accused of having disfigured Sherman.
Duperron was charged with aggravated assault because she was accused of having disfigured Sherman. iStock.

The following case is a cautionary tale about how a simple punch turned into an aggravated assault conviction.

R. v. Duperron is a decision that recently came out of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. In the case, Melissa Duperron was charged with aggravated assault against her ex-boyfriend, Frederick Sherman, whom she punched in his left eye during an argument about their relationship.

Sherman had a pre-existing eye-condition that had left him blind in his left eye due a childhood injury. Sherman’s eye bulged due to the build-up of pressure and he wore protective glasses as a result.

As Duperron and Sherman had been in a common-law relationship for sometime, Duperron was aware of Sherman’s eye condition and the fact that he wore protective glasses. After Duperron punched him, liquid and blood came out of Sherman’s eye, he experienced great pain, and he had to undergo surgery. Shortly thereafter, Sherman had his eye removed.

Duperron was charged with aggravated assault instead of just assault, because she was accused of having disfigured Sherman.

To show that this was an aggravated assault that disfigured Sherman, the Crown had to prove:

  1. The force was intentionally applied against Sherman without his consent;
  2. That a reasonable person in the position of the accused would have foreseen that a blow to the eye would put him at risk of bodily injury; and
  3. The assault led to his disfigurement.

In terms of the first requirement, it’s enough to show that there was an intentional use of force of any kind without consent, which the court was satisfied there was.

With the second element of the offence, the court found that because Duperron and Sherman had a long-time relationship, she was well aware that he had an eye condition and that if force were applied to that eye he would sustain bodily injury.

For the third element, the court looked at the term disfigurement and quoted the case R. v. A.P.P., which held that “it is sufficient to equate disfiguring to permanent defacing or deforming. It connotes something beyond the passing characteristics of bruising or abrasion.” The court noted that Sherman’s appearance was permanently and fundamentally altered due to the assault.

Even though it was a simple punch and the court acknowledged that Duperron likely did not intend for Sherman to be injured this badly, it wasn’t a factor in disproving her guilt.

Had Sherman not had a pre-existing condition, then the punch would likely not have resulted in aggravated assault charges, because the injury wouldn’t have been as grievous but an accused has to take the victim as he finds him or her.

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