Former UBC student pleads guilty to aggravated assault in first day of sentencing

Former UBC student Tanick Gunnarsson has pled guilty to attempted choking and assault causing bodily harm in an attack on a former intimate partner, as well as breaching a curfew that was imposed following his arrest.

The Crown and defence counsel are currently debating the appropriate length for his sentencing.

Between 2015 and 2017, Gunnarsson was in an on-again, off-again relationship with the victim. Gunnarsson assaulted the victim in November 2017, when both were UBC students living minutes apart on campus, and part of the Greek community.

According to the admissions from both parties, their relationship was “not healthy.”

In addition to accusations of cheating from both sides, the relationship was marked with verbal and physical disputes. This included an incident in 2016 when the defendant struck the victim with his fist, causing a laceration above her left eye that required two stitches. The victim did not report the incident because she felt “ashamed and embarrassed.”

They reconciled, but a day before the 2017 attack, the victim accused Gunnarsson of cheating and blocked him before going to a fraternity mixer with her sorority. While she did not want to be in contact with him, her phone unintentionally transmitted her location to him.

On November 23, Gunnarsson surprised the victim in her apartment hallway — it was unclear how he entered her apartment building since it requires tapping a key fob or being buzzed in.

He pushed the victim back inside and into her bedroom, while asking if she had gone to the mixer. The victim denied it because she was scared. Gunnarsson then began hitting and choking her, causing her to suffer from a laceration above her left eye that required three stitches as well as a swollen lip, bruising and redness around her neck.

He convinced the victim to lie to her friend that she had just been on a call with her family, before taking a taxi with her to Vancouver General Hospital.

Initially, while being asked in Gunnarsson’s presence, the victim told the nurse that she had just fallen off of a scooter. But after being separated from him, she disclosed the assault and Gunnarsson was arrested.

Gunnarsson was arrested, charged, and released on bail and required to follow a 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew. He allegedly violated this curfew twice — once on December 9 and again on December 31 — but only pled guilty to the second breach.

Altogether, Gunnarsson has spent 45 days in police custody since being initially charged.

Crown Counsel Jacinta Lawton argued that the lasting physical and psychological impacts of his actions merit 12 months of concurrent sentencing for assault and attempted choking, followed by 18 months of probation.

“The damage for me has been far beyond the physical wounds … I still don’t have the luxury of feeling safe in my own home,” the victim read from her victim impact statement at the hearing.

“Just because you look okay doesn’t mean you feel okay.”

The Crown counsel said the 45 days Gunnarsson has already spent in custody — which counts as 67 days because it occurred prior to sentencing — satisfies the charge of curfew violation.

Gunnarsson’s defence argued that his sentence should be 60 days of jail time for assault and 7 days for breach of curfew instead, and that the court should be satisfied by the 67 days already served. The defense counsel also presented a letter to the court and letter of apology to his victim from Gunnarsson, but they were not read aloud at the hearing. Lawton said the victim is still considering whether to accept the letter.

Both sides agreed that Gunnarsson’s lack of a criminal record, youth and immigration situation are mitigating factors. As a Thai national, it is possible that he will be deported.

The victim is still a UBC student, while the defendant has left both the university and the Greek system. Gunnarsson will next appear in court on June 11.