A Sudbury man has been found guilty of assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm and breaching probation orders after two different incidents with the same woman in 2019.
Jason Rebellato watched from the juror’s box as Ontario Court Justice André Guay delivered his verdict on Oct. 22. A two-day trial happened Sept. 15-16. At certain points, Rebellato looked confused about some of the information in Guay’s verdict.
Rebellato was charged with a number of offences, including two charges of assaulting his girlfriend. His other charges were in relation to breaches of related court orders, importantly two breaches of a probation order made on April 11, 2017.
The court heard that on April 11, 2017, Rebellato was convicted of charges of abuse against his then partner. Prior to his arrest, Greater Sudbury Police issued a news release asking for help in locating Rebellato, who they said repeatedly beat his girlfriend, dragging her by her hair from one room to another and forcibly confined her there. She feared for her life and that of her child, said police.
He was given a three-year probation order that said he had to inform his probation officer he was intending to get involved with an intimate domestic partner.
Rebellato’s probation officer testified that shortly after taking over his case, the two met to review his obligations. Justice Guay said it was clear from her testimony that not only had Rebellato not been honest with her in disclosing his relationship with his girlfriend, but he had not given his probation officer advance warning of his intention to enter into such a relationship. The probation officer only learned of the relationship after Rebellato had been charged on Aug. 6, 2019.
Rebellato and his girlfriend started their relationship in February, 2018. Not long after, he moved into his girlfriend’s home. It did not take long for the relationship to run into trouble, the court heard.
Rebellato appeared to be suffering from emotional and psychological issues, including extreme jealousy and suspicion towards men at his partner’s place of employment.
The evidence, said Guay in his verdict, clearly disclosed a pattern of growing animosity between Rebellato and his partner, which involved Rebellato making several visits to his partner’s place of employment.
On Aug. 1, Rebellato attended his partner’s work because he had been unable to reach her on the cellphone he had purchased for her. She forgot it at home, the court heard. He said he feared she was cheating on him.
When she got home from work, the situation escalated. When she refused to admit she was cheating, Rebellato slapped her in the face. She went upstairs to clean herself up. Rebellato followed her to the bathroom. He put his arm around her neck and choked her, the court heard.
She told the court she thought she was going to die.
Then Rebellato poured a container of orange juice over her head.
He then punched her in the groin.
“I find this was clearly an act of sexual assault and not one of physical assault,” said Guay.
The woman said she hit her head against the shower stall from the impact of the punch, leaving behind a bloody spot.
The assault continued downstairs, said Guay.
Rebellato threatened to tie her up in the basement and kill her, the court heard. At this point, she became terrified, and, in an attempt to defend herself, she picked up a knife and used it to fend off Rebellato, jabbing it at him and cutting the tip of his thumb and the back of his leg.
Rebellato prevented her from leaving when she tried to exit through the front door.
Rebellato managed to grab the woman and push her onto the floor while she was still holding the knife. He then sat astride her upper back and pinned her there, attempting to force her to release the knife. He “violently” struck the back of her head with his fist at least once, causing her to loosen her grip on the knife, said Guay.
At some point during the assault, the woman managed to make a 911 call. However, by the time police arrived, both the woman and Rebellato had showered and were both still wet when officers found them hiding together upstairs.
Photographic evidence of the complainant’s injuries and copies of her hospital records relating to the assault disclosed numerous abrasions and bruises to all parts of her body. Among these injuries were two severely blackened eyes, a cut to her forehead requiring a number of stitches, bruising to her neck indicating, together with her difficulty swallowing, choking, as well as welts to the back of her legs (most likely inflicted by the accused hitting her with his belt in the bathroom) and bruising to her neck, the court heard.
“The evidence indicates that (Rebellato’s) actions towards her were overpowering and physically very aggressive,” Justice Guay said. “His anger towards her and his will to control and dominate her emerge clearly from the many injuries she received at his hands.”
Following that incident, Rebellato was charged again on Nov. 11, 2019 for breaching a court order that said he was not to live with the woman, however, the court heard that almost immediately after being released, he returned to live with her.
He told the court that living in his own apartment was too costly.
“It appears from the evidence that the complainant’s motivation for allowing him to do so rested in her hope that her love for him and her tolerance of his bad behaviour would eventually lead him to change his controlling and aggressive ways,” Guay said.
The court heard Rebellato assaulted the woman again, this time with a television remote, in their bedroom. He testified the remote hit her after he carelessly flung the device and it accidentally bounced off the bed or the wall and hit her.
When she went to work at her new place of employment the next morning, she told a co-worker what had happened, and with her co-worker’s encouragement, she called the police.
While officers were interviewing her, they found Rebellato in the area of where she now worked, contrary to the terms of his release.
Rebellato pleaded guilty at the start of his trial to communicating with the woman on Nov. 11.
Guay acquitted Rebellato of charges of harassment and for knowingly uttering a threat to cause death, with both charges stemming from the Nov. 11 events.
Rebellato was remanded into custody and will return to court Nov. 5 for video remand.