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Marvin Antoniuk receives 34-month sentence for father's bow shooting

Marvin Antoniuk is led away from the courtroom after being sentenced to 34 months minus time served for shooting his father with an arrow. - Peter W. Rusland
Marvin Antoniuk is led away from the courtroom after being sentenced to 34 months minus time served for shooting his father with an arrow.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Marvin Antoniuk sobbed while apologizing to his father before getting two more years in jail for shooting his father in the heart with an arrow.

"I feel terrible and ashamed for what I've done," he said Friday, dabbing away tears to address Duncan court Judge Susan Wishart.

Antoniuk's guilty plea to aggravated assault saw the Cowichan-raised offender receive three years in prison, less the 10 1/2 months he has spent in custody since the Jan. 27 bow shooting at his family's home on Maple Bay Road.

Antoniuk, 49, also received three years probation, with strict conditions.

Those strings include no use of alcohol or drugs, no possession of weapons, and no contact with his father Marvin Antoniuk Sr., nor brother Myles.

But court heard how Antoniuk's actions had become intimately linked to those of his father — and Antoniuk's alcoholism.

"Alcohol has become a longstanding issue for Mr. Antoniuk. He also clearly suffered trauma as a child," Wishart later said of the accused's lifelong abuse by his father.

Still, she said her ruling serves to leash Antoniuk's violence, ensure public safety, and boost his chances of healing and finally staying straight.

Jan. 27 saw the near-tragic end to an emotionally charged night that started with watching TV. It swelled into a violent argument. Myles heard yelling, entered the room, saw his wounded dad, then confronted his brother.

He gave Antoniuk a wicked beating after the compound-bow arrow pierced their father's heart.

Incredibly, court heard, their dad pulled the projectile from his chest, then tried to stop the fight between his boys as police and paramedics arrived.

Antoniuk Sr. spent about nine days in hospital and has recovered, court heard during four hours of arguments by Crown counsel Brad Tomlin, and Antoniuk's lawyer Jeffrey Arndt.

Both regretted a Gladue report into Antoniuk's Native background and his behaviour wasn't available for the court. Psychiatric and risk assessments were done.

The two lawyers cited cases — laced with violence, weapons, and substance abuse — that spelled sentences between 16 months and six years for similar aggravated-assault charges.

"Obviously, no two cases are the same," Wishart said later.

Tomlin explained some of the abuse Antoniuk, a bowman, suffered at the hands of his father — perhaps the reason that arrow was fired from 10 feet away.

Antoniuk even tried to reload his bow, Crown said.

"There's no reason to believe he wasn't aiming for the centre of the heart. It was done with indifference as to whether his father lived or died."

Tomlin recommended a five-year prison sentence to stop Antoniuk from seeking further vengeance on his father, and to protect society.

But Arndt painted a picture of his client as a model for other prisons in Vancouver Island Correctional Institute.

But his painful childhood pushed the aspiring athlete to become a loner, boozer and doper — amid attempts at counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous, and rehab.

He was also in cultural limbo between his white father's world, and his Aboriginal mother's spiritual world.

"He chose alcohol over relationships. He was drunk and a druggie," he said, noting liquor could cause Antoniuk's "dissociated moments."

Maybe that's why Antoniuk couldn't remember if he drank one mickey or two, the night he nearly killed his dad.

"It makes me sick to my stomach to hear what I did that night," Antoniuk told the court.

Still, his crime was impulsive, not premeditated, Arndt explained.

Antoniuk's sister, Myra, also told court her brother has had a lifelong struggle primarily with booze, likely due to their father's vicious physical abuse against Antoniuk, her other brothers, and their mother during their "chaotic" home life.

And when Antoniuk, a Cowichan High grad, tried to stop his father from beating their mother — a residential-school victim — he was thumped, Myra explained.

Wishart also heard the Antoniuk family was basically disowned by their mom's Tlowitsis First Nations family — isolating them in "a no-man's land" from spiritual help that may have been offered to the troubled family.

"We weren't connected to my mom's family because of my father."

Myra also seemed to support Tomlin's statement that liquor could cause a "Jekyll and Hyde" effect on Antoniuk.

"Suddenly, it was like a switch would go off," she said of her brother who would "check out" during intermittent violent acts.

"Alcohol and drugs are a way of masking the pain," she said. "He's suffering the trauma from growing up."

That trauma pushed Antoniuk to attempt suicide after their mother died, Arndt noted of his client who also turned to cocaine and crack cocaine.

Myra compared her brother's hurt to a deep emotional gash.

"It's like putting Polysporin on the top layer, but underneath it's infected."

"There's likely more Marvin doesn't remember about our childhood."

She hoped carpentry-trained Antoniuk will help rebuild her mother's village near Campbell River, once he's out of jail.

"For a family to heal, it has to start somewhere."

It started with Antoniuk's apology to his father.

"I do care about my dad. I hope he can find peace in his life."

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