One of three men involved in a brawl at a New Sudbury pool hall in which a beer mug was smashed over the manager’s head will serve an eight-month conditional sentence.
“I’d just like to say I’m embarrassed and ashamed of the way I acted that night,” Michael Wahl told Ontario Court Justice Randall Lalande via Zoom link from his lawyer’s office just before receiving his sentence Thursday.
“This is a fairly serious matter because it involved an element of violence,” Justice Lalande said. “Thankfully, nobody was permanently disabled or injured.”
Wahl, 30, who was facing charges of assault and assault with a weapon (the beer mug) for the Oct. 15, 2019, incident at Rhythm ‘n Cues in New Sudbury, pleaded guilty to assault. The Crown withdrew the assault with a weapon charge.
Lalande accepted a joint sentencing submission by the Crown and defence lawyer Robert Beckett. As a result, Wahl will serve four months of house arrest, then be required to follow an overnight curfew for the remaining four months.
Justice Lalande also imposed an 18-month probation order that includes conditions such as staying away from Rhythm ‘n Cues, having no contact with the manager, taking counselling and discussing alcohol consumption with his probation officer.
In addition, he imposed a DNA order and a five-year weapons ban.
Wahl is not to possess or consume alcohol while serving his conditional sentence.
The court heard that about 1 a.m. Oct. 15, 2019, two groups of people – men playing pool and women at the bar – at Rhythm ‘n Cues got into an argument. One of the men challenged one of the women to go outside and fight.
The manager then intervened and told the two men, one of whom had a beer mug in his hand, to leave. One man refused to leave and told the manager that if he didn’t stop asking them to leave, “he would tear his face off.”
One of the men then headbutted the manager, who then removed him from the premises. The other man got involved and struck the manager on the head with a beer mug from behind.
The manager wrestled one man to the ground, but the second man repeatedly kicked him.
When the brawl ended, the manager was taken to hospital where he received stitches to his head and diagnosed with a concussion.
Greater Sudbury Police charged the two men, one of whom was Wahl.
Assistant Crown attorney Bailey Rudnick said there were some identification issues with the incident.
“Mr. Wahl wants you to know he was not the person with the beer mug, but he was involved in the other part of it,” Beckett told Lalande.
Wahl had a prior record dating back to 2013, but it was unrelated.
In his sentencing submission, Beckett said his client rarely gets drunk, but on the night in question, he was.
“He is remorseful,” said the lawyer. “He readily admitted his involvement since Day 1 … My client wants you to know that drinking was a part of the problem (in the incident), but it is not a problem in his life.”
Rudnick said “any type of group assault is clearly concerning” and that the victim in the case was working at the time.
Rudnick said the manager declined to provide a victim impact statement to the Crown “but did indicate he was glad there were rehabilitation elements (counselling) as part of the resolution.”
The court heard the other man charged in the incident is still before the courts.