Corunna man gets 10 years in prison for ‘brutal, sustained, cowardly attack of a defenseless man’

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Editor’s Note: This story describes a graphic assault

Kevin Martin Simpson will spend a decade behind bars after “viciously” assaulting a man with a hatchet during a July 2018 robbery at a London Line motel.

Simpson, 34, learned his fate in Sarnia’s Superior Court of Justice on Sept. 18. The Corunna man was found guilty in May this year of aggravated assault, break and enter, robbery, possessing a weapon, and disguising his face.

Justice Russell Raikes – who delivered the convictions – says this could have been hearing a much different case. “Frankly, this could easily have been a homicide trial,” says Raikes.

The attack took place in the early hours of July 19, 2018 at the Gables Inn. Simpson, along with accomplices James White and Natasha Brennan, drove to the motel and snuck around the back to a unit where a man was staying with his girlfriend.

Simpson claimed the man owed him money.

Brennan knocked on the door and when the man answered Simpson immediately struck him in the head with a hatchet.

The man fell to the floor while the three entered the room. Once inside Simpson continued to hit the man in the head and body with the axe, while also kicking and stomping on him.“Mr. Simpson continued viciously striking after he was down, incapacitated, and bleeding profusely,” says Raikes. “There was no warning, and no chance whatsoever to defend himself.

“It was a brutal, sustained, cowardly attack on a defenseless man.”

As Simpson continued to attack the man, White and Brennan searched the room and grabbed bags of personal items. The victim’s girlfriend was also in the unit but she was left unharmed.

As the three left, Simpson told the man that he should “keep your mouth shut” about the incident.

The man had a fractured skull and one of his ears almost completely severed in the attack.

“The violence employed by Mr. Simpson was extreme. It seems to me mere luck that [the victim’s] injuries were not more serious, or even fatal,” says Raikes.

Brennan and White were arrested in the days following the incident. Simpson evaded capture for more than a month until he was finally arrested on Sept. 5 following a chase with Sarnia Police and OPP by vehicle and later by foot.

A victim impact statement read to the court showed the attack has left a lasting impact on the man. He has physical limitations from his injuries and says his personality has changed. He is now guarded, anxious and fearful, and says he has difficulty interacting with people.

The court heard that Simpson came from a broken home, landing in foster care and becoming involved with the criminal justice system as a youth. He dropped out of school at 14 and began to abuse alcohol and drugs, including opiates, cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, and fentanyl.

Simpson was convicted of several assault charges between 2008-2010, but had a clean record for many years after that when he got married. When the relationship ended in 2016 however he went back to using drugs.

The Crown asked for a 10-12 year sentence on the charges while the defense suggested 5-6 years. Defense lawyer Ken Marley noted the sentences of Simpson’s accomplices; White received four years and four months while Brennan was sentenced to one year of house arrest.

But Raikes cited Simpson’s “very troubling history of violence,” the fact he was the principal instigator, the serious and lasting injuries to the victim, the targeted nature of the attack, and the threat to keep quiet.

Raikes added that White and Brennan never struck anyone inside.

“Once in the room, it was Mr. Simpson alone who continued viciously hitting [the victim] several times with a hatchet, and kicked and stomped on him even when it was completely obvious that [the victim] was down, injured, and no threat to anyone,” says Raikes.

Another aggravating factor was that the attack qualified as a home invasion. “This was his temporary residence. He was entitled to be as safe and secure in that room as he would be in an apartment or home. That safety and security were grossly violated.”

Simpson was given 5.5 years for the aggravated assault and 4.5 years for the break and enter. He received one year each on the theft, masking, and weapon charges, which will run concurrent to the 10 year sentence.

With time served Simpson has just under seven years left in prison.

“The degree of moral blameworthiness is very high, and the offenses are very serious,” says Raikes.

“I find that a substantial period of incarceration is warranted in these circumstances.”

Simpson also received a lifetime weapons ban, must submit a DNA order, and cannot contact either his accomplices or the victims while in prison.