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Justin Primmer learns May 29 if he will face an indeterminate penalty, dangerous offender tag or a prison term

By Jane Sims, The London Free Press

Justin Primmer has been convicted in a string of violent crimes.

Justin Primmer has been convicted in a string of violent crimes.

Justin Primmer has been behind bars for more than three years without knowing his sentence — but that will change this spring.

The former mixed marital arts fighter will find out May 29 if he will face an indeterminate sentence as a dangerous offender, a long-term offender designation that would require a community supervision order after serving a sentence, or a prison term.

The decision expected from Superior Court Justice Alissa Mitchell will end a long examination of Primmer’s crimes and personality, and ultimately determine if he poses too high a risk to the public to remain out of custody.

Primmer, 32, was convicted in July 2015 of violent assaults on a former girlfriend, triggering the Crown’s request for a dangerous offender hearing. Those attacks happened just weeks before he met Desiree Gallagher, 23, of Brantford.

Gallagher suffered catastrophic injuries May 25, 2013, when she fell off Primmer’s seventh-floor balcony in London. Left blind and wheelchair-bound by the fall, she died two years later.

Primmer wasn’t prosecuted for those injuries, but for assaulting Gallagher after photos showing her injuries from a beating were found on his phone.

Gallagher’s mother, Susan Gerth, was at Friday’s hearing when the Crown and defence made their final arguments.

Primmer also has a manslaughter conviction for the death of a Stratford man in 2004 and a conviction for assaulting an inmate in 2014.

The dangerous offender hearing that began last fall has touched on many conflicting themes. There was evidence Primmer associated with the Hells Angels when he was out of jail, and recently converted to Islam behind bars.

He amassed a long record for violence while in the community, but has been a model prisoner.

Already, Mitchell has received voluminous written sentencing submissions from the Crown and the defence. Friday’s hearing was set aside for oral submissions that pinpointed areas that each side said should tip the balance for sentencing.

Assistant Crown attorney Brian White argued that a dangerous offender designation was the best solution to keeping the community safe because Primmer would be under constant supervision even if released into the community.

He pointed to Primmer’s penchant for partner violence and how any woman in a relationship with him would be at high risk.

Primmer has an anti-social personality disorder, White said.

“We know Mr. Primmer is going to lie, he’s going to manipulate,” he said.

Primmer’s relationships don’t have to be lengthy before there is violence — as little as four hours after meeting Gallagher, she was badly hurt, White said.

If Primmer was given a long-term offender designation — which acts similar to a probation period with strict conditions for as long as 10 years — any breaches of the conditions would be dealt with in court and then would send him back into the community.

Much greater controls could be applied with an indeterminate sentence, White said.

He noted that Primmer does well when he’s under supervision but falls into criminal behaviour once the controls are lifted.

And, all of the psychiatrists who assessed Primmer said he was a high risk to re-offend.

But defence lawyer Ron Ellis, who is asking for a six- to eight-year sentence, argued Primmer is in a long period of pro-social behaviour and, as the doctors pointed out during the hearing, “the longer pro-social, the better.”

Though the Crown argued that if the defence position is accepted, Primmer could apply for parole at 37, Ellis countered that with a long-term offender designation, he would remain under supervision until he was 47.

jsims@postmedia.com