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Man who attacked Edmonton mom in front of her kids has sentence reduced by 5 years

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Warning: This story contains details of a violent attack and a reference to suicide.

A man who slammed an Edmonton mother to the ground and strangled her outside of a downtown daycare in 2021 has had his nine-year prison sentence reduced to four years.

Alberta's court of appeal issued a written decision Tuesday in the case of Rockie Rabbit, 32, who pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and overcoming resistance by choking.

Rabbit was on methamphetamine when he "committed a brutal and unprovoked attack on a stranger," the appeal ruling states.

The victim was a 39-year-old woman who was picking up her children from daycare.

The six- and eight-year-old kids “cried hysterically” while they watched the attack through a glass door. When police arrived, they found Rabbit on top of the mother, still strangling her.

Crown prosecutors initially sought a six-year prison sentence but Rabbit’s lawyer wanted him to serve three years. Judge Carrie Sharpe decided on nine years for each count, to run concurrently.

"Understandably, the sentencing judge was moved by the gravity of the offence and its effect on the victim and her family," said the appeal decision signed by Justice's Jolaine Antonio and Bernette Ho.

"However, she lost sight of the proportionality principle and fell into error by seemingly viewing recognition of any mitigating factor as an undermining of the gravity of the offence."

The victim sustained "little lasting physical injury" but the appeal judges acknowledged it put her "life at risk" and caused lifelong "psychological effects" on her and her family.

Still, they decided a lesser sentence was appropriate based on similar cases, Rabbit's guilty plea and Indigenous "Gladue factors" including poverty, abuse and drug use.

Rabbit asked the victim “did you kill my daughter?” before he attacked her and was hallucinating at the time, the appeal judges noted.

Some of his family members had recently died including by suicide, a heroin overdose and a murder, the appeal decision states.

"His use of drugs at this time, while unlawful and dangerous, is to some degree explained by his past environment and recent events in his life," the judges wrote.

"He did have a history of prior drug use and was described as 'angry and violent' when using, but he had never before experienced hallucinations similar to those that precipitated the subject attack. These factors diminish his moral blameworthiness."

Rabbit was given credit for the 379 days he spent in jail prior to being sentenced.

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