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*WARNING: The following story contains graphic details of an assault case. Please use discretion when reading ahead.*

After he plead guilty on October 11, 2011, to charges of attempted murder, unlawful confinement, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and uttering threats, the Crown and defence prepared a joint recommendation for two years incarceration, in addition to the six months he had already served.

However, it appears the defence has changed its mind, as Judge Brian Daley heard today how Budnick and his family friends believe going to jail would cause him to lose the tools he has gained from rehabilitation. Budnick has spent the last nine and a half months at the Last Door Recovery Centre in New Westminster, a drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre, to deal with his issues of substance abuse. While he has graduated from the program, and has been sober for 15 months, incarceration would cut him off from his network of friends in recovery, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and counselling.

“I’m not afraid physically or mentally of incarceration,” he told the court today, “but I feel I will lose those tools if I’m incarcerated.”

Sentencing had already been postponed from February to allow him to complete the program, something his lawyer Greg Cranston says a client of his has never done in his career. Regardless of his recovery, Budnick says he takes full responsibility for his actions. The incident in question took place over two days in February 2011, when Budnick’s ex-girlfriend, who will remain unnamed, was subjected to several hours of physical abuse. According to statements by the woman, the two had split up two weeks prior, but had been dating on and off for a year.

On the day in question Budnick had been drinking, and confronted the woman, accusing her of cheating on him. He struck her twice in the head, causing her to fall into a garbage can. His behaviour became erratic, swinging around an Asian-type blade, and despite efforts to calm him down, the abuse continued in the bedroom, where photos later submitted into evidence showed blood on the pillows, sheets, walls and other objects.

She says she was subjected to hours of attacks, including punching, kicking and hitting with cowboy boots and a full beer can, and attempts to snap her neck. Fearing she had a concussion, the woman attempted not to sleep, but at one point woke up with a garbage bag over her head, with the air being sucked out. She was able to poke a hole to breath, but the abuse continued, including the cord of an alarm clock radio being wrapped around her neck.

All this time, she was fighting back, and at one point was even able to flip him off the bed, as well as protect herself from being strangled with a belt. According to statements, throughout this time Budnick was making threats, saying he was going to “chop her to pieces” with an axe he was swinging, and “you know I’m going to have to kill you”.

Eventually he fell asleep, and when he awoke in the morning, he was apparently beside himself apologetic, insisting she get first aid help from a friend. When that friend said they absolutely had to go to the hospital for a deep laceration to her left shoulder, the two drove back to town, but didn’t go to the hospital. Instead they drove around, looking for what she assumed a “dark, secluded” spot to kill her. The ex said he grew “weirder and weirder”, threatening to wrap barbed wire around her neck, and accusing her of bringing the Devil into the situation, again saying “you know you have to go, right?”

Budnick drove to both the lookout on 100th Street, which was too busy, and Charlie Lake, before stopping to buy cocaine. After that, when he turned left on the 271 Road, he was driving fast, and the woman saw her opportunity as a semi-truck approached them. She had unbuckled her seatbelt earlier, and bailed out of the car into oncoming traffic. Witnesses say Budnick then reversed, appearing to be aiming for where she was on the road, just barely missing her. She was then saved by a truck driver.

Budnick has an extensive history of drug and violence related charges dating back to 1987, including against domestic partners, and has spent several months in jail. However, two family friends testified today that he is a “200 per cent” changed man, and letters from the rehabilitation centre and the church he attends show he is making progress. Defence also argued that, as the woman said in her statement, Budnick was a completely different person when he was on drugs, and the fact that he hadn’t been in court since 2005 shows he is trying to go on the straight and narrow.

“Give me this chance,” Budnick pleaded. “I will stay on this road.”

Due to the new position of the defence, Budnick will have to wait longer to know how long he will serve, if at all. The case has been adjourned to a later date.

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