Graffiti case Judge may hike tagger's sentence
A Manitoba judge says jail may be the only option for one of Winnipeg's most prolific graffiti taggers.
Dustin Fenby showed up in court Monday expecting to walk away with a conditional sentence, proposed as a joint recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers. But after hearing submissions, provincial court Judge Lynn Stannard said she thinks the proposed penalty may be too lenient.
Stannard told lawyers she is considering the rare move of ignoring a plea bargain and invited them to make written submissions on why she shouldn't. The case has been adjourned until later this summer.
Fenby, 23, was arrested in 2008 as part of major police crackdown on graffiti. He pleaded guilty last year to 77 counts of mischief, which represents the exact number of property owners he targeted. Most of the damage was done in the Corydon area, court was told.
Fenby would always use his signature tag of "Coek" -- the misspelling was apparently deliberate -- then bragged about what he'd done by posting pictures of his work on social networking sites like Facebook.
"There was a significant amount of property damage done," said Crown attorney Susan Helenchilde. She couldn't provide any specific financial numbers to court, but said some tags cost hundreds of dollars to erase.
Helenchilde and defence lawyer Giselle Champagne were seeking a 20-month conditional sentence for Fenby, which allow him to remain free in the community. Stannard expressed concern about his previous criminal record, which includes numerous breaches of court orders and 12 prior convictions for similar graffiti in 2006.
A pre-sentence report paints Fenby as a high risk to reoffend and says he has unresolved drug, alcohol and gambling issues, which have led to repeated violations of probation and bail.
"Ever since I can remember I've been screwing up and making life hard for myself," he told his probation officer. However, Fenby now claims he wants to "turn his life around," especially with his girlfriend due to give birth to their first child in August.
"It was a really stupid part of my life," Fenby told court Monday of his criminal past. "I want to move on, grow up."
Fenby likely didn't do himself any favours with the judge when he showed up nearly an hour late for his sentencing hearing, which nearly prompted Stannard to issue a warrant for his arrest. He pulled a similar stunt last winter.
Non violent property offenders should not be imprisoned. Prison should always be a last resort, not over-relied upon. This man should receive a conditional sentence. Prison would negatively impact this man and his family and has no purpose, besides revenge/retribution, which is completely unjustified. Prison would not address the root causes of this man's criminal behaviour, such as his addictions issues.
Prisons do not accomplish deterrence. Most criminals are impulsive and not rational, cost-benefit weighing actors. This would not teach anybody a lesson. Prison does not deter, prevent or reduce crime. If you want our society to get "tough" on crime, you are essentially advocating for less safe communities, because prisons do not address the root causes of crime and actually increase the chances of re-offending.