Fort Good Hope man sentenced to five years in prison after he pleads guilty to attacking couple with axe

Yellowknife Courthouse (CKLB File photo).

A Fort Good Hope man has been sentenced to five years in a southern penitentiary after he pleaded guilty to attacking a couple with an axe in that Sahtu community in 2018.

Christopher Shae, 49, bowed his head as he was sentenced for aggravated assault in Supreme Court in Yellowknife on Thursday.

He admitted he hit a man and a woman in the head with the blunt end of an axe in September of last year.

Court heard Shae flew into a rage after he found his two snowmobiles on fire in the middle of the night outside the home where he had been staying.

He confronted the couple, accusing them of torching the machines and hit both victims in the head with the axe, cutting both of them and fracturing the man’s skull.

They both had to be medevaced to Yellowknife and then onto hospital in Edmonton.

Neither of the victims was in court for the sentencing.

Shae admits he has little recollection of the events that night due to his level of intoxication.

His lawyer said the actions were the culmination of an ongoing dispute he had with the male victim, his neighbour, who the lawyer says had roughed up Shae at a party earlier in the evening and had then run into him with an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

Shae admitted he used the axe because he had watched his future literally go up in flames.

It’s not clear whether anyone was charged with torching the snow machines.

Court heard Shae had intended to use the snowmobiles to hunt and trap, virtually his only source of income as well as his food.

Shae has 14 crimes of violence on his lengthy criminal record but the judge said the attack had to be put into context.

Justice Andrew Mahar said that Shae was essentially homeless and that the snowmobiles were virtually his only possessions.

The judge notes that Shae lived in isolation with few friends or family.

Both his parents are deceased and his grandparents, who helped raise him, have also passed on.

The judge noted that he grew up in a home surrounded by excessive drinking and violence involving his parents.

Court heard he was placed in foster care and was eventually taken in by his grandparents who taught him how to live off the land.

Shae apologized to his victims and agreed he should have called police about the arson not taken matters into his own hands.

He also told the judge he hopes to live somewhere other than Fort Good Hope once he is released from custody.

Shae is also subject to a ten-year firearms prohibition but can apply to use a rifle or shotgun for hunting purposes.

Taking into account his pre-trial custody, Shae will have three and a half years left to serve.


About the Author

John McFadden
John has been in the broadcast journalism industry since the 1980s. He has been a reporter in Yellowknife since 2012 and joined CKLB in January of 2018. John covers the crime and court beat as well as reporting on other areas including politics, business, entertainment and sports. He won seven national community newspaper awards while he was a journalist with Northern News Services Limited (NNSL). John worked in Ontario before coming North including stints as a TV sportscaster in Peterborough and senior news writer for CBC and CTV in downtown Toronto.