Original article no longer available
January 28, 2009
Thana Dharmarajah, Record news services
GUELPH – The son of Canadian country music legend Tommy Hunter left a courtroom yesterday without a criminal record for assaulting his father.
Justice Norman Douglas decided a conditional discharge with a 12-month probation order was appropriate for 41-year-old Mark Hunter, who has mental health issues. He pleaded guilty to the assault charges in November.
“Mr. Hunter senior hopes his son gets the help he requires,” assistant Crown attorney Janine Hodgins said.
Court heard in November that police were called to the Hunters’ Puslinch Township home just after midnight Oct. 17. Tommy Hunter said his son had returned from work around 11:30 p.m. and they started arguing.
Mark shoved his father, causing him to fall down. He went downstairs to call 911, but his son followed and pulled the phone cord out of the wall. The argument continued upstairs. Eventually, the victim was able to get to the garage, where he called police from his cellphone.
The country music performer wasn’t in court yesterday.
According to his website, the man known as Canada’s Country Gentleman is currently on a brief tour in Ontario and Western Canada. He was set to take the stage at the Grand Theatre in Kingston last night.
Hodgins said both Tommy Hunter and his wife were aware of their son’s difficulties. The courtroom heard Mark has a history of bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and attention-deficit disorder.
According to a presentence report, Mark is taking prescription medications, including antidepressants.
“What concerns me is that he consumes a bit of alcohol on a daily basis,” Douglas said, noting Mark has cut back from 20 drinks to six to eight drinks each day. “Hopefully, he will be steered in the right direction to address the concerns I am concerned about.”
In determining a sentence, Douglas said he considered Mark’s mental health issues, the fact that he had no prior offences and pleaded guilty at an early opportunity.
The probation order carries conditions that Mark keep his appointments at the Canadian Mental Health Association, take his medication and provide proof of counselling to his probation officer.