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 8, 2010

Man with numerous probation breaches, given another chance at freedom

A Harvard-educated Winnipeg businessman with a history of terrorizing his estranged family is back on the streets, despite a psychiatrist's opinion he is "likely to kill."
The man -- who the Free Press is not naming to protect the identity of his victims -- was arrested last week for allegedly breaching conditions of his bail and probation orders.
Provincial court Judge Ray Wyant agreed to release him back into the community despite expressing serious concerns.
"There are a lot of things... that raise a lot of red flags for me," Wyant said in a hearing that wasn't covered by a publication ban.
Crown attorney Terry McComb argued the man, who is in his 30s, should remain behind bars. He spent nearly an hour going through extensive details of the man's troubling behaviour. He has been diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder and has made repeated threats to go on a deadly shooting spree against those he believes wronged him.
"He speaks of himself as being a ticking time bomb," McComb told the judge.
"He speaks of having a holy war, of having another Columbine or Virginia Tech" (massacre).
The man pleaded guilty in a Kenora courtroom last year to holding his parents hostage for several hours inside their Lake of the Woods cottage. He was under both a bail order and a restraining order to have no contact with them at the time of the 2007 incident, court was told.
The man, who has both Canadian and American citizenship, chartered a boat on the U.S. side of the lake, used a bogus name to get through customs then broke into the cottage, armed with an aluminum bat.
He ordered his parents to sit on a couch, saying "I could kill you both right now."
He blamed them for problems with his business interests and difficulties he had with his ex-wife and her family, who are also prominent Winnipeg business owners. He was also angry at not being allowed to see his children without supervision, court was told.
"Ultimately his parents were able to talk to him, to calm him down and he said he couldn't kill them," McComb said.
The man admitted to charges of criminal harassment, unlawful confinement, uttering threats, assault with a weapon and numerous breaches. He was given time in custody and two years of probation, which would be monitored by Manitoba's high-risk offender unit.
He still faces two charges of uttering threats from 2007. Those involve allegations he said he would kill his parents, his ex-wife and several members of her family during telephone conversations. He claimed he had "bought a .45 from a black man" and was prepared to use it.
"He said this would be all over the news, that he was incapable of surrender. He said 'I'll fight to the death. This is war. It will go down in blood. I don't care if I go out in a hail of bullets,' " McComb told the judge.
The man's trial on those charges is set for this fall. He's free on bail, and his conditions include a nightly curfew and non-contact order. He has reluctantly attended court-ordered counselling but has shown little interest in taking responsibility, court was told.
Last month, he told his psychiatrist he would no longer participate in conversations and would instead do yoga during future sessions.
"He apparently feels the whole system should bend to him. He doesn't appreciate how serious this is," McComb said.
"(The psychiatrist) does indicate he believes... he is likely to kill."
Police arrested the man last week after probation officials conducted four curfew checks in which he didn't answer his telephone at the Pembina Highway hotel where he lives with his new girlfriend, court was told.
The man took issue with his arrest during his bail hearing, in which he acted as his own lawyer. He said he was inside his room, as required, but never heard the phone ring.
"I haven't breached. I don't take my release lightly. My freedom is very important to me," he said. The man blasted the Crown, police and probation officials for targeting him.
"The system keeps screwing me," he said. "I'm hearing a lot about a monster. That person I don't recognize as myself. I'm trying to work towards peace and reconciliation. I do not have any major mental problems. I'm not capable of doing these things that people said I could do. I'm not a danger to society."
The man spoke for nearly 30 minutes straight, pleading with Wyant to give him another shot at freedom. He bragged about his many accomplishments, from his education at a prestigious U.S. college and winning a Winnipeg business award, to dominating the competition during weeknight floor hockey games at a Winnipeg church.
"I'm the top scorer, by the way. But that sounds narcissistic, so I won't say that," he told the judge. The man also compared his plight to that of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
"I'm a guy who's been dealt a bad break by his family," he said.
Wyant chastised the man for his "me, me, me" attitude, noting he has already been convicted of serious criminal charges. However, he agreed to give the man one more shot at bail, warning any further breaches would likely result in a lengthy stay in jail.
"The authorities are going to be watching your every move," he said.

First of all, the headline is very biased. You can immediately know the author's opinion (that he feels this man should be held in custody) from the way he puts the psychiatrist's opinion as if it were a fact, in the headline. News stories are supposed to be unbiased. It is also biased in the fact that fails to state anything about the accused's background life, which may be a mitigating factor, or any other mitigating factors. 

I agree with the decision to release this man on bail. He is a successful university graduate and businessman who suffers from a personality disorder, which needs to be treated. That cannot happen in jail. His condition would likely only worsen. I agree with the bail but also feel this man should have to adhere to very strict conditions, including attending counseling and treatment. 

This man missed 4 phone calls. It doesn't mean he breached his curfew. That's not even a serious violation. He has been on bail without breaching for 3 years so the Judge obviously considered the fact that he does appear to abide by his court orders. The breach of probation charge could be something simple and not serious such as failing to keep the peace. It could be a simple mistake. Just because he breached his bail and probation doesn't mean he is any more dangerous. It doesn't mean that because he breached his bail and probation that he's alleged to have committed two separate offences. Failing to keep the peace is a breach that an officer lays any time someone on probation picks up a new charge. 

In addition, he has previously only expressed aggression and anger towards family members and relatives, not anyone from the general public, so I do not think he would be a danger to the public. 

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