Brantford woman issues warning about release of man who beat her daughter

By Brian Shypula, QMI Agency

Justin Primmer (Photo from

Justin Primmer (Photo from

STRATFORD -- A convicted killer and woman beater is coming back to live in Stratford.

Justin Primmer has completed a six-month sentence for assault causing bodily harm and is being released into the community on Monday.

Eerily, Primmer's return comes almost 10 years to the day that he stabbed Stratford resident Bill "Bonesy" Welch to death on Oct. 19, 2003.

Stratford police deputy Chief Mike Bellai said he could not release details about the conditions associated with Primmer's release.

"We have very strict procedures and are guided by the Police Services Act as to what we release to the public and what we don't release to the public," he said.

"We'll be taking as many proactive steps to ensure that he abides by the strict conditions that have been put on him by the courts," Bellai said.

A Brantford woman, though, is warning the community.

"I think the public has to beware of this animal," said Susan Gerth, whose daughter suffered severe injuries at the hands of 29-year-old Primmer, a former MMA fighter.

"I don't want to make his life easy. My daughter's still in the hospital - she's got a lifetime sentence," Gerth said. "He's out next week able to walk the streets, nothing wrong with him."

Gerth's daughter, Desiree Gallagher, nearly died after plunging seven storeys from the balcony of Primmer's London apartment in May. She has 14 screws holding her spine together. A portion of her skull was removed to relieve swelling of her brain. She's partially blind and has lost her short-term memory.

The cause of the fall remains under investigation.

Primmer was charged with assault causing bodily harm after police seized a cellphone containing photographs of Gallagher's badly beaten face from his apartment.

Gerth said that Canada's justice system must hand down and enforce tougher sentences, especially in cases like Primmer's when he's already been convicted of serious crimes.

Primmer should have still been behind bars, she said, but instead met her daughter on May 24, when she travelled to London to party with friends. The encounter changed the petite Mohawk College biotechnology student's life forever.

Gerth doesn't know if her daughter will ever get better but holds out hope.

"I pray every day that she gets better," she said through tears. "It's one of the hardest things a parent ever has to go through."

"She had a lot of hopes and dreams."

Primmer, then 19, was on probation for a previous assault when he and cohort Matt Boyes showed up at the Cambria St. home of Welch, who made his living taking odd jobs and reselling -- or bootlegging -- beer for extra cash.

Boyes started a fight with the older man and Primmer took over, stabbing Welch five times. Welch was able to name his killer before he succumbed to the wounds.

Primmer and Boyes were originally charged with second-degree murder for Welch's death but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Primmer was given a 10-year prison term and Boyes five years. Primmer, though, served only half the sentence. Two-for-one credit for time served knocked two years off the sentence and early release another three.

After his release from prison Primmer fought under the name "The Ninja" in mixed martial arts bouts.

Gerth said police advise her of Primmer's whereabouts because he is not permitted to have contact with anyone in her immediate family.

London police Const. Ken Steeves said Primmer is also banned for life from possessing firearms, crossbows, other prohibited weapons, ammunition and explosives.

With QMI Agency files

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