Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Former RCMP father of three, suffering from PTSD, guilty of trafficking after joining Zig Zag crew

A former Manitoba RCMP officer pleaded guilty to trafficking weapons for the Hells Angels, claiming he was desperate for money to pay for his young son's birthday party.
Wayne Shuttleworth, 40, was sentenced to the mandatory minimum three-year prison term Friday under a joint-recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers. He was also given an additional year behind bars on the charge of participating in a criminal organization.
Shuttleworth was one of 31 people arrested last December through Project DIVIDE, a year-long undercover sting operation in which police used a trusted gang associate to act as a secret agent.
Michael Satsatin captured dozens of illicit deals on audio and video surveillance, including a series of meetings with Shuttleworth in November 2009.
Shuttleworth had various conversations with Satsatin in which he discussed having a connection on the Sandy Bay First Nation that would allow him to buy firearms. Satsatin later paid Shuttleworth $500 for a sawed-off semi-automatic shotgun.
Defence lawyer Mark Wasyliw told court his client was struggling financially after leaving the RCMP because of post traumatic stress disorder and being unable to hold down another job because of his mental state, combined with physical injuries.
Shuttleworth was a single man who had joint custody of his eight-year-old son and desperately needed cash to spend on the boy's birthday party, Wasyliw said.
Along came Satsatin with an offer he couldn't refuse. "It was one of the worst decisions of his life," he said.
Shuttleworth was also a foster parent to two troubled teens from the isolated Manitoba reserve of Shamattawa. Social workers removed the boys from his care after his arrest.
"The chances of them ever trusting him again to be a foster parent are pretty remote," Wasyliw said.
Shuttleworth was an RCMP officer between 1991 and 1994 but quickly burned out and turned in his badge.
"About 10 years ago he was finally diagnosed with PTSD. There were numerous, horrific incidents he observed while working on northern reserves, including children being burned alive," Wasyliw told court.
Shuttleworth is still collecting an RCMP pension and went on permanent disability after suffering a crushed ankle while driving a truck several years ago.
Shuttleworth turned to the criminal world after being brought in by a friend, where he quickly rose up the ranks of the Zig Zag Crew, which is the so-called puppet club of the Hells Angels.
Wasyliw said his client enjoyed the camaraderie of the organization.
"They have spaghetti nights, watch UFC fights, football games. You have a sense of belonging," he said.
Shuttleworth managed to keep his past as a police officer hidden from the Hells Angels, who have a strict rule against allowing anyone into the organization with such a background.
He was quickly turfed from the gang when it became public following his arrest.
"He's not safe in jail. He will be going into Stony Mountain (penitentiary) with a target on his back," Wasyliw said.
Shuttleworth has spent six months in pre-trial custody, which was given double credit of one year.
The judge imposed another three years in prison.

A former Mountie arrested in an undercover sting targeting organized crime has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Wayne Edward Shuttleworth, 40, pleaded guilty Friday to one count each of trafficking in a firearm and participating in a criminal organization.
Shuttleworth was one of 31 people arrested last December as part of a year-long investigation dubbed Project Divide. Nearly all of those arrested were members or associates of the Zig-Zag Crew street gang, the so-called “puppet club” of the Manitoba Hells Angels.
As in similar stings police enlisted the aid of a paid criminal agent, in this case Zig-Zagger Michael Satsatin, to ensnare criminal targets.
At the time of his arrest Shuttleworth was a full-patch member of the Zig-Zag Crew. Court heard he sold Satsatin a sawed-off semi-automatic rifle and had made arrangements for the sale of another firearm prior to his arrest.
Police surveillance captured Shuttleworth attending 20 meetings of the Zig-Zag Crew, during which members discussed the need to arm themselves against their gang rivals.
Shuttleworth was a member of the RCMP for four years before quitting in 1994.
“The record shows is that he was not a good performer with the RCMP,” Crown attorney Sadie Bond told court. “If he did not resign he likely would have been dismissed.”
Defence lawyer Mark Wasyliw said Shuttleworth suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his RCMP experiences, which included “seeing children burned alive.”
At the time of Shuttleworth’s arrest, the Zig-Zag Crew was a rag-tag collection of third-tier criminal amateurs, a gang decimated by a series of successful police busts, Wasyliw said. Shuttleworth, Wasyliw argued, joined the gang for the “camaraderie ... a sense of belonging,” not because he wanted to be a criminal.
Justice Chris Martin rejected the argument. He said Shuttleworth knew what he was signing up for when he joined the gang.
“I have a difficult time accepting that the Zig-Zag Crew is equivalent to ‘the gang that couldn’t shoot straight,’ ” Martin said. “This is not just a group of amateurs ... This is a criminal gang whose purpose was criminal activity.”
Martin credited Shuttleworth one year for time served, reducing his remaining sentence to three years.

Great article by Mike McIntyre! It included the mitigating factors and defence lawyer arguments along with the facts of the case. This is how a good and unbiased article is written.  

I completely disagree with the three year mandatory minimum sentence for this man. Mandatory minimum sentences (MMS) should be abolished as they leave judges with no discretion in considering all the mitigating factors surrounding an individual, such as this RCMP officer, who had many mitigating factors. This leads to individuals being sentenced too harshly. MMS treat all crimes and offenders as if they are equal, when really, they are all different and unique. MMS also result in further overcrowded jails and prisons, which leads to increased violence and increased rates of re-offending when individuals are released. 

This man should have been sentenced to a 2 year conditional sentence in the community as I do not believe he is dangerous to society. He has many mitigating factors surrounding him. He sought a sense of belonging, and did not seek to be involved in criminal activity. He needed money to provide for his son's birthday party. He suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after witnessing horrific incidents during his policing career. He was also a single parent to his 8 year old son and two foster children and was struggling financially to secure employment due to his mental state and illness. This man is also at risk of being targeted in prison and assaulted by rival gang members, because he was an officer who joined a gang, which is strictly prohibited. These are all factors which should have reduced this man's sentence, but thanks to mandatory minimums, the judge was unable to even consider these factors. 

Prison will likely have a negative effect on this man's mental condition. Also, now his 3 children are left without a stable parent and will be placed in foster care. This man is not dangerous and there is absolutely no reason he needs to be incapacitated in prison. Putting this man in prison accomplishes NOTHING other than costing taxpayers a lot more money!

I would have sentenced this man to a 2 year conditional sentence. I believe this man could greatly benefit from mental health services and psychological help, rehabilitation, community service work and employment assistance, as opposed to prison. He could be working to improve himself in the community as a productive citizen, but instead, he will be sitting in a prison cell with little opportunity for rehabilitation, surrounded by negative influences in a negative environment, pro-criminal attitudes and behaviours and gang and drug activities and influences. 

Prison is also not safe for this man, as he is at great risk of being physically or sexually assaulted. Prison will not only impact this man negatively and will not serve to rehabilitate or improve him, but it will also negatively impact his children. 
I also disagree with undercover stings as they are deceitful and can lead to false confessions and wrongful convictions. 

If I were the Judge, I would have sentenced this man to a 2 year conditional sentence, with the conditions that he attend counseling and mental health treatment for his PTSD, be provided with employment assistance, and possibly resources and support groups, where he can fill his need for belonging and identity.

This man was struggling financially and was frustrated that he could not secure employment due to his mental state. He was desperate for money to provide for his 8 year old son and in that desperate and stressful time where he needed money, he saw joining a gang as his only option. He committed a crime of opportunity, not one of revenge. He has no prior record and I do not believe he is a danger to society and therefore, should not have been imprisoned.  

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