A man who repeatedly subjected his girlfriend to a “sickening” level of violence that resulted in black eyes, cuts, bruises, swelling and a stab wound to the stomach has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
David Raffle, 46, was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster Sept. 24. The reasons for sentence were recently posted online.
Because he has already spent 28 months in custody, there are five years, eight months remaining of his sentence.
Raffle was convicted by a jury in April of two counts of assault causing bodily harm, one count of aggravated assault and one count of assault with a weapon.
The court heard Raffle and the victim, who had a romantic relationship, lived in a trailer park in Surrey in October 2012 when the woman faced multiple assaults by Raffle over a 10-day period.
Upon admission to hospital, the victim’s injuries included facial bruising which included both eyes, swelling above her ear and back of head, brain trauma, bruises on her neck, body, back, legs and arms, and cuts to her fingers and one forearm.
The victim testified at trial, and while the judge said she couldn’t always recall precise dates, the series of beating she claimed occurred were consistent with photographic evidence.
“The photographs clearly show that her two black eyes are at different stages of healing,” said Justice Anthony Saunders. “The photographs, I add, depict a level of violence that is sickening to contemplate.”
Saunders said the deep laceration on the woman’s arm resulted from blocking Raffle from hitting her in the head with a brass statue. The cut on her left finger was from him trying to cut it off with a soup can lid, as it bore a tattoo of the name of her former spouse.
The assault causing bodily harm charge followed an incident less than two weeks later, on Nov. 6, 2012, when Raffle repeatedly punched and kicked the victim while walking near their Surrey home. This time, the woman suffered additional cuts and swelling to the face and head, an ear injury and chest bruising.
The final, most serious attack occurred Jan. 9, 2013. The two had moved together from Surrey to New Westminster, despite Raffle having been under court order not to contact the victim.
The jury heard the pair had been drinking together when Raffle stabbed the woman in the abdomen with what she described as a boning or filleting knife about five inches long.
The defence argued the stabbing was not deliberate, but a spontaneous act – something the judge did not buy.
Justice Saunders said the stabbing fit Raffle’s pattern of abusive dominance.
“It was no accident and it was no mere whim,” he said.
Saunders said the number of assaults and degree of violence put the case “towards the extreme upper end of domestic violence cases.”
He said the most aggravating factor was that the assaults took place within a domestic relationship. The victim’s emotional attachment and dependence on Raffle was illustrated by the lengths she went to cover up the abuse and injuries, the court documents say.
“[The victim] was vulnerable in relation to Mr. Raffle and, through his continuing abuse, he continued to exploit that vulnerability, believing he could assault, control, and dominate her with impunity,” said Saunders.
Raffle has an extensive criminal record that began with property crimes a youth and progressed to assault, break and enter and robbery with a firearm, for which he served served jail time.
His latest sentence also includes a lifetime ban on possessing weapons.