The 23-year-old Lethbridge man and a friend went to the Taber home in the early morning hours of July 5, but when they didn’t find the resident at home, Journoud kicked in the front door and ransacked the residence, destroying an aquarium and killing a lizard in the process. Then he torched the home, causing more than $100,000 in damage.
Journoud pleaded guilty Sept. 12 in Lethbridge provincial court to one count of arson, along with numerous other charges, including assault causing bodily harm, break and enter, animal cruelty and breaching conditions of court orders, stemming from incidents in the months leading up to the fire. Journoud was also sentenced for an unrelated and unprovoked assault on a man in October 2011 in which he sucker-punched his victim, causing a tooth to fall out and causing other related injuries to his mouth.
“Cowardly is really an understatement,” Judge Gregory Maxwell said of Journoud’s attack against someone he didn’t even know.
Journoud’s string of offences, for which he was globally sentenced Thursday to four years in a federal penitentiary, began in January when Taber police had to forcibly remove him from his ex-girlfriend’s home. At the time, Journoud was bound by a probation order — stemming from a previous conviction for spousal assault — prohibiting him from contacting or communicating with the woman.
Three months later, at about 1:20 a.m., police again responded to a complaint Journoud was outside his ex’s home banging on her door. This time when police arrived he was co-operative, but he was also bound by a recognizance to abide by a curfew and be in his home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Then, on July 4, Journoud called his ex and said he was going to beat up a man he thought was involved in a relationship with her, the same man whose house he burned down the very next morning.
“Your actions defy explanation,” Maxwell said during Journoud’s sentencing hearing. “You’re out of control.”
He said Journoud’s actions indicate a total lack of respect for anybody, anything and anyone’s property, and it was only by luck his intended victim was not at home so Journoud could make good on his threat to harm him.
“So you burned his house down.”
During most of the hearing Journoud, who appeared by closed-circuit TV from the Medicine Hat Remand Centre, kept his head down. And when asked if he wanted to say anything, he simply replied, “no sir.”
In addition to his prison term, for which he was credited 60 days for the time he spent in pre-trial custody, Journoud was also ordered to submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank, and he is prohibited from possessing certain weapons and firearms for 20 years, and other weapons for life.
Christopher J. Vanmeer, who had been drinking with Journoud the evening of July 4, was also charged in connection to the break-in, and pleaded guilty earlier this week in Taber provincial court to housebreaking to commit mischief and breach of conditions. He was sentenced to five months in jail and placed on probation for 15 months. Court was told Vanmeer left before Journoud set fire to the home.
“I know myself that I need to get help, and get my affairs back in order,” he told the court. Vanmeer was also ordered to provide a sample of his DNA and to attend for assessment, treatment and counselling for alcohol and substance abuse.