(random scene of smashed cruisers)

And what a week it’s been.

Monday Tuesday started out with reporters still hung over on the second-degree murder verdict in the Mark Grant/Candace Derksen killing. A number of interesting details about what jurors didn’t hear emerged.

But shortly before noon that day, two Winnipeg police officers walked out of a Winnipeg courtroom acquitted on perjury charges based on either a fatal Crown error or a misunderstanding, depending on what side you’re on. When I checked Friday afternoon, no appeal had been filed yet. The ‘technical’ acquittal had some wondering what police were cheering about.

But while that was happening, troubling details about the sentence a young street-gang member may be about to get for murdering three people in one short, sharp go were emerging in a courtroom down the hall from the cheering officers. Justice Suche has some deciding to do over the weekend and we’ll know this week just when the killer will become eligible for parole. No matter how you slice it [4 years or  6.5 years] it seems low for the blood that was shed. However, it is just parole eligibility, meaning his potential freedom will be in the hands of the National Parole Board.

It was on this day that police announced they were searching for an elderly woman who was missing for several days. By Thursday, she had been found dead in her car miles from home, and according to some reports wrapped in a tarp and stuffed in the trunk. A hunt is now on for her killers, but police have not revealed the cause of death.

On Wednesday, The Freep’s @mikeoncrime tweeted this: “Reminded today I have the best job in terms of finding fascinating people and stories to write about. 2 big “talkers” in tomorrow’s paper.”

He was right about one of them — and likely only because that story so overshadowed the other in terms of attention, this one didn’t have a chance. I won’t add to the froth the first has caused, but wanted to say I always get leery when politicians and leaders make bold statements, condemnations and take action on decisions they likely haven’t even read. But, in some sense, I accept that they couldn’t be seen to say nothing. David Asper put on his lawyer hat and crafted an interesting letter to the editor in Saturday’s Freep.

The Sun’s Dean Pritchard had a solid story on what happened in a police-involved crash a number of months ago. I don’t recall police ever saying that a charge had been laid against an officer in connection to the case, which was a bizarre one. Lots of damage — and lots of luck no one was seriously hurt.

Interesting, underplayed story about former Hells Angel Michael Bandusiak being allowed time to go shopping and to do personal errands while he’s serving a conditional sentence. While some police were celebrating their colleagues acquittal, this decision had some others absolutely fuming, I’m told.

Kudos to CTV on their story about charges against Provincial Court Judge Brian Corrin.

However, this story had some police unconvinced about the merits of the new police helicopter tell me they’re warming up to the idea. Media allowed to take rides in the chopper this week. Multiple stories emerge. File footage you’ll see on TV newscasts for years now in place.

As well, this story about federal money for police promised by the federal government barely dented the weekend news. I get irked when important stories get buried on page B2.

Colleague Gosia Sawicka had a good story on a now-defunct Winnipeg travel agency that’s now under investigation.

If one looks big-picture, however, the #1 biggest crime and justice related story this week can be found in the WFP series on FASD. In my days spent sitting in youth [and adult] court, I can say no other issue seems to come up as frequently than this disorder. It weighs heavily on the justice system, and the costs are huge.

Stuff that didn’t make the news:

I’ve written a bit in the past about the trials and tribulations the Manitoba Islamic Association has been having over the last year or so. A development this week was that the now court-confirmed MIA president, Dr. Nasseer Warraich, has been cleared of criminal charges [Crown stayed them behind the scenes on Feb. 10] and in the wake of that, Warraich has filed a lawsuit against another MIA member for allegedly giving a false statement to police that resulted in his arrest and now-ended prosecution. Lawsuit is in its very early stages, no defence has been filed. Lawyer Marty Minuk is handling Warriach’s case.

Former Winnipeg daycare worker Joel Stubson made his first court appearance on a number of child pornography-related charges.

The trial for Michael Trakalo, the son of a now-retired Winnipeg drug investigator has been remanded (again). This time until April.

That’s it for now.

-30-

6 thoughts on “Major crimes: a week in review

  1. Quite the story on fetal alcohol related social and criminal costs.

    It was great reporting on that story.

    I have written a few times that if a stronger push was made in this area for prevention and treatment that crimes rates could very well drop considerably.

  2. I actually missed Asper’s letter. Thanks for the heads up on that.

    He pretty much hit the nail on the head of one thing that was most frustrating to me with the dialogue around that — the fact that the biggest issue was the apparent disconnect between the verdict and the comments. On the former, I do appreciate the frequent evidentiary challenge posed by sexual assault cases (though I think there’s also a lot of B.S. that plays into it on the large scale); on the sentencing end, I’m a reasonable person and I can accept conditional sentencing and the reasoning for it, even if I don’t agree with the decision.

    But there was such incredible tension between the verdict and the sentence, in this case. And it was reflected in website comments that seemed to forget that the verdict wasn’t being debated, this persistent refrain of “There’s a lot we don’t know! Did she consent?” and “No means no, but did she actually SAY no?” etc.

    I wanted to point out to each and every one of them was that the verdict had already been made and the verdict was rape, which sort of renders those questions irrelevant, and even if we don’t read the full text of the decision and the sentence, there is such a weird contradiction in saying “yes, a rape occured” and then saying “BUT it was really just inconsiderate and sex was in the air so… meh.”

    The fact that there are people, many people, who were equivocating on that end is incredibly disturbing to me. Predictable, but disturbing. Outside of the bigger picture, how-do-we-respond-to-rape stuff, the problem wasn’t the verdict, and not even necessarily the sentence by itself, which would not have been newsworthy. The problem was the rather colourful commentary which was almost at direct odds with the verdict and informed the sentence.

    As for the FASD reporting — as you note, it underscores the fact that (in my opinion) the single biggest problem in our entire society is addictions. It is the disease in which almost all other major social ills fester. Solving addictions could have massive and sweeping positive effects on everything from crime, to poverty, to health care, and then onwards from there to government budgets and the economy. Some research has indicated that funding addictions treatment and outreach could, in fact, give us the best bang for our buck when it comes to fighting crime alone compared to enforcement, to say nothing of everything else that is impacted by addictions.

    And yet addictions treatment is the one thing that is extraordinarily difficult for addicts to access — almost always more difficult to access treatment than drugs and, of course, booze. And the AFM continues to be woefully underfunded, and flushing it with cash does not appear to be a politically palatable option to almost anyone. It’s very aggravating.

  3. @MM: Addictions treatment funding is like [in most cases] funding prisons — politically unpalatable.

    What gets my goat is legalized gambling in Manitoba but almost no follow through to help addicts. I’m working up a stats-based post on this.

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