He narrowly dodged an attempted-murder charge for shooting the mother of his infant son at point-blank range.
But despite his legal victory, Jared Smoke couldn't avoid a stiff shot of prison Thursday as a judge sent him there for 12 years for pulling the trigger.
"Only by luck is he not facing a murder charge," Court of Queen's Bench Justice Chris Martin said. "I conclude that Mr. Smoke was, and remains at this time, a danger to the community."
Smoke and the victim got into an argument inside her Furby Street apartment on Oct. 21, 2009, and he began assaulting her, court heard.
"She was essentially defenceless. He was beating her at will," Martin said.
'Only by luck is he not facing a murder charge'
Smoke, 24, dragged her by the hair to a bedroom and continued to physically attack her.
Then he turned, grabbed a sawed-off rifle he'd brought into the home and fired it as she held up an arm to defend herself.
The bullet caused "massive destruction" to her forearm and grazed her cheek and skull, fracturing both.
The shooting happened in front of Smoke's four-month-old son. A two-year-old child was also in the home at the time.
Smoke and other adults fled the suite -- leaving the injured woman and the kids to fend for themselves.
"None of them tried to help (the victim), who was laying in a pool of blood, or called for help," Martin said.
Smoke ditched the rifle in a nearby garbage can and vanished for about a month before turning himself in to Winnipeg police.
While pending trial, he had several conversations with the victim aimed at getting her to minimize what he did.
Both testified at trial the shooting was an accident, with the woman telling court "what happened was her fault," said Martin, adding he rejected the claim.
She remains supportive of Smoke to this day, Martin said.
"She displays classic signs of a dependent, battered woman," he said.
Prosecutors pushed for an attempted-murder conviction but lost their bid in a ruling earlier this year.
Martin instead convicted him of several other charges, including aggravated assault and discharging a firearm with intent to wound.
His apparent lack of remorse was striking, said Martin.
"I am uncertain that he fully realizes the impact on (the victim), the children or even the other adults that witnessed the assault," he said.
Smoke's personal background was described as "harsh and unstable," having been exposed to racism, extreme violence and drugs and alcohol from an early age.
By age 12 he was living on the streets, bringing him into contact with gangs and the youth-justice system.
Given this and his nearly complete lack of positive role models in life, it was almost "predictable" he ended up where he is now, the judge said.
"His background is tragic. His involvement in crime is not surprising," said Martin.
The 12-year sentence Martin handed out was just a year shy of what Crown attorney Daniel Chaput had requested.
After credit for four years and three months of time already served was factored in, Smoke has 51/2 years left to serve.