‘What the public doesn’t hear about’ project Week III

img00056

Oh, what a week it’s been.

Monday

[PUBLIC HOLIDAY, COURTS CLOSED] No Briefing. Media were e-mailed a notification that sex offender Winston George Thomas was slated for release and due to take up residence in the city.

Tuesday

Media briefing held. 5 things on the docket – a cadet recruit class application notification, a strong arm robbery arrest, two police vehicle chases [one in which a guy was shocked with a Taser] and ag assault with a weapon arrest.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

[For brevities sake: PO = probation order; recog = bail]

Catch and release? Here’s proof. What a weekend it was for that, and crime overall. This seems more than usual because courts were closed on Monday.

  • Male, aggravated assault [not released]
  • Male, fail POx2
  • Female, fail recog x2
  • Male, fail recog (on charge for public indecency and possession of weapon dangerous)
  • Male, robbery with firearm, 8x weapons offences [police released on this]
  • Male, robbery with firearm, weapons offences, fail conditions of prior release
  • Female, assault
  • Female, fail PO
  • Male, fail release conditions x2, fail abstain alcohol
  • Male, utter threats
  • Male, assault peace officer
  • Male, fail PO, theft over $5,000 [vehicle], house break enter and theft, drunk driving, operate over .08
  • Male, HTA
  • Female, fail bail conditions – abstain
  • Male, assault peace officer, fail PO
  • Male, fail POx2
  • Male, fail to attend court
  • Male, fail POx2 – 3x HTA [arrested during traffic stop]
  • Male, fail report bail supervision
  • Male, fail conditions of youth sentence, fail POx2, mischief under $5,000 x2
  • Male, fail recog x2
  • Male, drug trafficking, possession of property obtained by crime, fail youth sentence x2
  • Male, fail recog x2
  • Female, theft under $5,000, mischief under $5,000, assault
  • Male, fail report bail supervision, fail attend court
  • Male, fail PO
  • Male, fail bail conditions
  • Female, utter threats
  • Female, fail conditions, fail PO, fail attend court
  • Male, possess weapon dangerous, violation of court ordered weapons ban, 7x conditional sentence breach
  • Male, Assault, carry concealed weapon, utter threats, point firearm, possession dangerous – wanted on aggravated assault from June 19 [home invasion] Police released on this
  • Male, robbery with imitation weapon x3, possess weapon dangerous
  • Male, robbery with firearm, fraud under $5,000
  • Male, fail PO, carry conceal, possess weapon dangerous, fail bail condition, HTA
  • Male, assault, utter threats, cause public disturbance
  • Male, fail report bail supervision
  • Female, house break and enter with intent to commit robbery or violence
  • Male, fail POx2
  • Male, fail POx2
  • Female, Murder 2nd degree, aggravated assault, fail report bail supervision, fail attend court, fail bail x5 [Police released on this – it’s the woman accused of killing Mike Allan – tons on this here in prior posts]
  • Male, fail attend (pending on mischief/damage to car over $5,000, possess weapon dangerous
  • Male, drunk-driving, fail stop scene of an accident, HTA, alc over .08
  • Male, fail report bail supervision
  • Male, carry conceal, assault with weapon, possess weapon dangerous
  • Female, assault, obstruct peace officer (pending on a theft under warrant from 2005 and 3x fail attend breaches)
  • Male, drive dangerous, obstruct peace officer, flight from police, fail PO, HTA x2 (pending on assault w/weapon cause bodily harm x2, fail PO and uttering threats)
  • Female, assault x2 (pending on 4x fail bail conditions)
  • Male, fail bail

There was also, I should note, a fatal drunk-driving-related crash in Berens River that RCMP did not release on. Happened on Saturday – no comment from RCMP even when requested on Tuesday.

Five days after, they issue an emailed statement that was hella confusing.

Wednesday

No media briefing, but info e-mailed out. On the sheet is: A commercial robbery [request for assistance/info], an assault with a weapon [request for assistance] and a missing person [request for assistance]. No arrests are announced.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, 2x fail conditional sentence
  • Male, uttering threats x8, fail restraining order [non-domestic] x4, fail bail x3, use firearm, carry conceal, possession for dangerous purpose
  • Male, mischief to property under $5,000, possess break in tools, possession weapon for danger. purp, possession of stolen car, fail probation, possess property obtained by crime under $5,000
  • Female, flight from PO, operate disqualified, fail conditional sentence x2
  • Female, assault cause bodily harm x2, fail bail
  • Male, 2x fail bail conditions … pending on house break/enter commit mischief, counterfeiting, forgery x2, credit card fraud, counterfeiting [possess counterfeit markings], forgery [obtained by instrument based on forged document] and fail to attend court
  • Male, utter threats, fail PO x2, fail release from police custody x3
  • Male, assault cause bodily harm, assault, fail PO x4, utter threats x2, fail bail x4 [including not possess weapons]
  • Male, 4x possession purpose trafficking, possession of criminal property under $5,000 [drug money], careless shipping of a firearm, possession dangerous purpose, 3x unauthorized possession, 5x bail breaches [pending on robbery with a weapon, mischief, unauthorized possession, possess weapon for dangerous purpose
  • Male, 6x fail youth sentence [four for being in car when not allowed to be], HTA, drive dangerous, flight from PO, theft of car, theft of car
  • Female [this one’s interesting, upcoming blog] 9x HTA – mostly driving disqualified in span of a few months – and a PO breach for a drug conviction

Thursday

Media briefing held, an inspector is made available to talk about new federal legislation regarding criminal organizations/and the daily blotter is about a commercial robbery, a ‘foot pursuit’ arrest and a break and enter.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, fail PO x2, possession of stolen car, possess criminal property x2, flight PO, personation ID fraud, drug possession x2 and 3x HTA [police released on this – the ‘foot pursuit’ arrest]
  • Male, fraud, obtain credit fraudulently under $5,000, fraud under $5,000 x2, fail POx3
  • Male, fail attend
  • Male, fail attend court, fail bail [pending on possess stolen car and break, enter and theft]
  • Male, fail PO
  • Male, (Gene Malcolm) drug trafficking, possess property obtained by crime, 3x fail bail, 6x weapons charges [a firearm]
  • Male, assault PO, assault, obstruction, resist PO, fail youth sentence
  • Male, fail bail
  • Female, theft under $5,000, fail bail x2, fail youth sentence x2

Friday

Media briefing is held: on the list is … a homicide, a shooting, a commercial robbery arrest and an assault arrest.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, 2 x bail breach, possess weapon x2 [pending on 3x breach, fail attend court, assault with weapon, mischief to property under $5,000
  • Male, drug trafficking, possess criminal property under $5,000, possess firearm, careless storage, 2x weapons offence and mischief
  • Male, drug trafficking, possess criminal property $5,000, possess weapon dangerous, careless storage and 5x bail breaches
  • Female, drug trafficking, possess criminal property $5,000, possess weapon dangerous, careless storage and 3x bail breaches [is pending on weapons prohibition breach, drug trafficking and break, enter and theft
  • Male, house break enter with intent to commit an offence, possess break in tools, 2x bail breach
  • Female, drug possession, fail PO [pending on 2x fail youth sentence, discharge firearm with intent to wound [four-year mandatory minimum, aggravated assault, breach of court-order and weapons ban breach from Bloodvein…she was arrested Thursday in Winnipeg]
  • Male, assault PO, utter threats, mischief, cause disturbance [pending on assault, mischief and fail attend court]
  • Male, fail youth sentence x5, fail attend court
  • Female, theft under $5,000 x2, fail attend court and breach of bail
  • Female, breach bail x4 [pending on assault cause bodily harm, fail bail x2, breach court order and theft under $5,000 from 2007]
  • Male, HTA, drug-trafficking, attend court, bail breach x4
  • Male, theft under $5,000
  • Male, fail bail
  • Male, robbery with weapon, point firearm, 3x weapons offences
  • Male, uttering threats

Note: virtually every single person arrested this week and last weekend [and these are just scratching the surface] was out on bail or probation or other court-imposed conditions and is back in custody.

Is it any great mystery why morale in the system is so low? Why the system is so slow?

If I was a police officer, or probation official or Crown, I’d be beside myself.

It’s boom times for defence lawyers, if you can get the client to pay.


A disaster waiting to happen

Mike Allan in an undated photo with his beloved dog. Family Photo/James Turner/CBC

Mike Allan’s death this weekend was brutal and tragic.

It was also not his fault.

He didn’t know what he was up against.

It’s been an odd day, digging into the background of the woman accused of killing him in his home, and then stabbing an 18-year-old outside a convenience store just a few blocks from my home.

At times I found myself shaking my head at the weirdness of it all. Later still, as I write this, at the senselessness.

The murder suspect, 30-year-old Mary Ellen Thomas, is in the Remand Centre, locked away from the world.

As little as just a few days ago, she was not.

And I struggled to come to terms with why, until I realized the judge who let her out on bail a few weeks prior to her being suspected in Saturday’s  extreme violence didn’t have the information she needed to make a fully-informed decision.

On June 23, Judge Mary Curtis agreed to let Thomas out of custody on a number of strict conditions, including to not go near booze, obey a curfew; standard stuff.

Thomas was alleged to have met some guy from British Columbia on a chat line and had a few drinks with him at the Sandman Hotel on Sargent Avenue on the 20th.

Her lawyer said she became upset when he made some “inappropriate” comment about her.

“He certainly wasn’t acting like a Boy Scout that particular night,” the lawyer tells Curtis.

Thomas was alleged to have grabbed a shovel from the box in the back of the guy’s pickup and started slamming it against the vehicle, shattering the window.

Police are called and they pick her up.

The mother of one child is locked up for three days before she meets Curtis in a courtroom for a bail hearing. There was no publication ban on the evidence given.

Curtis expresses her displeasure at her alleged conduct:

“You don’t like [the person] … I mean you walk away, you don’t go out and bash their vehicle up.”

Curtis asks Thomas if alcohol has been a problem for her in the past.

“Not really,” she says. “I’ve just been like, using alcohol to like, block, like, problems out and stuff like that, I get lonely and the reach for that drink.

“But I know other stuff to do instead of drinking,” Thomas says. “I know I made that mistake already by busting a window and going with strangers for drinks. I have supports I can call on or go do other things, like go to a movie or the mall or something,” she adds.

Curtis notes that Thomas hasn’t seen the inside of a jail cell for about a year and a half, after she served a full 2.5 year sentence for robbery.

The judge notes the 25 breaches of court-orders on her record “plus all the robberies, the thefts, the break and enters, the prostitution charges, all of that stuff.”

“I’ve changed a lot,” Thomas says.

Curtis cuts her off. Stops her from saying more.

“I’m just saying — and I think probably you shouldn’t say too much because I don’t need to hear a lot of detail from you. This isn’t a sentencing, OK?,” the judge says.

“All I’m saying is, objectively, when I look at your record, the inclination is to say, ‘nothing’s changed.’ And you know that — you’ve lived your record,” she says.

“But, in this particular set of circumstances, I am going to authorize your release.”

Cue here: The ‘hang em high’ crowd that so commonly frequents the hateful comment forums of online news sites.

Here’s what Curtis didn’t know at the time she bailed out Thomas for doing nothing more than bashing in a window.

The Crown didn’t know either, but opposed her freedom anyway based on what prosecutors saw on paper. That’s their job, not the judge’s.

Thomas’s defence lawyer didn’t say anything about it, because that’s not his job to make his client look bad. Besides, he probably spent all of 30 minutes with her trying to put together some sort of bail plan that would make sense to the judge.

However, we turn now to the National Parole Board to help clarify what we’re dealing with here:

In 2006, Thomas was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and told she required medication to stave off hallucinations, hearing voices and paranoia.

“Your behaviour when you are not on your medication is unstable,” the board noted in a follow-up decision after it revoked her mandatory statutory release from prison based on the belief her risk in the public was unmanageable.

“You want to return to live with your mother. When living with your mother in 1999, you had an angry outburst and caused $25,000 damage to her apartment.

“Your mother believes that your cultural teachings see your hallucinations and voices as visions and gifts rather than an illness or a disease. She would rather see you learn to control “her gift” rather than take a variety of pills and drugs to subside it.

“Under the circumstances, it is unlikely that your mother would ensure that you take your medication to control your mental illness,” the board said.

Thomas’s abuse of substances, like crack cocaine, was also a pressing concern to the CSC and parole board.

“You present as expending a significant amount of energy managing the expression of anger.

“…Your behaviour at Regional Psychiatric Centre is rated as poor. You have been involved in altercations with other offenders. Two noted incidents where you have fought other offenders at RPC (one where you struck another offender in the head with a disc man) and you have a history of being aggressive or disrespectful toward staff.

“You have not completed any programming while incarcerated to reduce your risk of violence.”

And just to give you a flavour of that risk the board noted:

  • Nov. 28, 1996 – Thomas is convicted of assault for punching a woman in the face while trying to steal her purse.
  • June 7, 1999 – Thomas is convicted for mischief over $5,000 in connection to the apartment fracas at her mom’s. She was home alone and smashed the toilet, left the faucets running and tossed food around, telling police: “I was mad, I don’t like living at my mom’s.”
  • December 11, 2000 – conviction for assault with a weapon after slashing a man in the head with a broken beer bottle. The victim needed 22 stitches to close the wounds and is disfigured for the rest of his life.
  • Nov. 24, 2003 – assault – Thomas jumps into a car and demands money from the driver. When the driver takes off, she takes off after him and injures him with a paint roller.
  • July 17, 2004 – assault – after drinking with a guy, she gets into an argument with him and hit him with a telephone and a small coffee table. He required seven sutures to close his facial wounds.
  • May 20, 2006 – Thomas hails a cab and when the driver realized she had no money to pay he stopped the car. Refusing to budge, the driver goes to remove her from the cab but she locks the doors and took his cash and a house key. She then somehow punches him in the face and takes off.
  • May 28, 2006 – She’s getting a ride from a guy she was partying with. When he refused to take her where she wanted to go, she grabs a screwdriver and stabs him in the stomach and head. Luckily, he was only slightly injured.

So in at least last four incidents now in the last decade, Thomas has been suspected of a crime by police after drinking with a guy — and another gets sliced open with a vessel to drink alcohol out of.

In at least one, it’s been proven she gets irate about something and freaks out.

One gets seriously hurt; another slightly. Another allegedly gets his truck smashed and the other can no longer answer questions.

Police would probably claim it’s because Thomas killed him.

She is innocent until proven guilty in court.

But the point is that Judge Curtis didn’t know any of this and let her go based on the facts she had in front of her.

Allan didn’t have any information to go on.

I spoke again with Merv Forbister yesterday. He had gone to the home where his brother in law, Mike, was killed.

“I went there for closure,” he told me.

The house, as I noted yesterday, is a wreck. There’s blood everywhere.

He wanted to know if the suspect caused the damage.

I told him I didn’t know. All I really know is what the cops have said. Mike and a woman he had only just met got in a fight and she is claimed to have killed him, left the home and returned later when police arrived to check up on a call they got about a disturbance.

I found out today that police were one minute — a minute — away from arriving when they were pre-empted to a stabbing call at a 7-11.

They didn’t know that when they did pull up to Mike’s house, they’d find a suspect in two crimes there.

Forbister admitted that he and his wife — Mike’s sister — are angry at ‘the system’ for what happened.

And while they probably should be, there’s a lot that up until today, they couldn’t have known.

The information came too late, for everybody involved.

-30-

Tiny memorial

Walking by Bar Italia at Cockburn and Corydon a few minutes ago and noticed a small, unadorned memorial for Gary Rent has been erected by a mysterious someone.

Rent died last week after allegedly being pushed and smacking his head on the pavement.

An employee of Bar I has been charged with manslaughter.

Full story here and here.

And now, FP reporting about a brawl outside/near the place. Hmmm….

‘Rape’ not returning to Criminal Code

On a slow holiday Monday, the Globe and Mail/Canadian Press is reporting on the short life and quick death of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’s request to return the charge of ‘rape’ to the law of the land.

Apparently, the Federal justice department didn’t do much with the idea, which is probably a good thing.

In the early ’80s the crime was done away with for the more general ‘sexual assault’ – and, by extension, ‘aggravated sexual assault.’

Toews wanted rape to be put back, calling the doing away with the crime the biggest mistake Parliament has made with respect to criminal law.

The justice department didn’t agree.

Many Manitoba Crowns have told me that the real issue is the 10-year maximum prison term for sexual (not aggravated) sexual assault. Judges are left with a huge range of discretion in how offenders are punished.

I feel it would have been better use of Toews’s time to push for stronger penalties.

And as well: how about making possession/distribution/creation of child pornography an included offence under sexual assault law?

Homicide in Lord Roberts II

Mike Allan in an undated photo with his beloved dog. 'It was the happiest he ever was,' his family said Sunday. Family Photo/James Turner/CBC

You can read about what happened to Mike Allan here, so I won’t recount the CBC News story.

But I wanted to point out something that I’m sure will be the subject of much debate over the next week.

Allan’s brother in law, Mervin Forbister, told me today that a Winnipeg homicide detective showed up at his door on Saturday to tell him the bad news and share with him and Allan’s sister, Nancy, what they believed had happened.

Among what Forbister says he was told is the following:

A call came in to 911 regrading a disturbance in the area of Allan’s Nassau Street South home around midnight Saturday. Sources tell me it was more like 1 a.m.

It’s at this point that Allan was believed to have been attacked by his assailant.

That same assailant left the home at some point before 2:15 a.m. and made her way towards the 7-11 on Osborne St. South.

An 18-year-old woman was stabbed and the suspect fled the area.

Police outside the home where Mike Allan lived for the last two years. Prior to this, he had been living in a rooming house in Saskatchewan.

After this, the suspect is said to have then returned to Allan’s home, where police attended at about 5 a.m., according to Forbister.

The suspect is arrested.

Some will wonder – well, why the 4 hour gap between the disturbance call and the arrest at the home? Why didn’t police show up at midnight?

It’s because of a couple of things, I’m going to say.

One – the call that came in was for a disturbance. Not an assault, or gunfire or other pressing threat that the WPS could have immediately known based on the complaint that was made [arguably by a neighbour]. Others in the area told me they heard nothing Saturday morning.

The duty office told CBC today that at points over the weekend, there were as many as 100 calls in the dispatch queue awaiting service. A fair amount, but still down a heck of a lot from summers just a few years ago where sometimes upwards of 250 calls would be waiting to be cleared.

It was busy, crime wise, this weekend – and if you’re looking at the queue of stabbings, assaults [domestic or otherwise] and gun calls – and dealing with a scarce amount of bodies to place at calls across the city, you have to prioritize.

The fact that officers got to Allan’s home when they did is most likely as quick as they could, given the nature of the call — a disturbance.

Forbister was blunt with me: He feels the police are not to be blamed in any way for their response to the incident.

Homicides are, by and large, impossible to predict, and the fact the suspect [a 30-year-old woman] is charged with second, and not first-degree murder is an indication that the killing happened in the heat of the moment, and wasn’t a planned event.

Police guard the rear of Allan's home on Sunday.

Forbister lamented the loss of his relative, but was candid about his lifestyle and the backdrop to the killing.

For many years, Allan battled the bottle and was very ill [he weighed only 120 lbs.] with a contracted lung infection that left him very sick and weak.

Allan and the woman he was with were in a cab from the downtown area and stopped at the Osborne Village Inn to get a case of beer. They headed back to his place.

Forbister said police told him there was a dispute, which lead to Allan being beaten, “he had his face kicked in,” he told me, and was tossed down a flight of stairs and repeatedly stabbed.

The knife used, Forbister said, came from a set Allan recently won for being so productive at a telemarketing gig he was working at.

“I had a premonition [about Mike] three days ago,” Forbister said.

In that vision,  Allan died.

He said he thought the former welder and Mensa member would have died while out riding his bicycle in traffic.

Forbister thought he’d never go in such a violent way.

Rest in peace, Mike Allan.

Homicide in Lord Roberts

Police remain on scene outside a Nassau Street South home after a man in his 60’s was killed, according to police.

The suspect in the case apparently left the house and proceeded to attack a woman at a nearby 7-11.

Have victim’s name and will be talking to his family this morning.

Stay tuned to cbc news for more.

UPDATE: Up-to-date story with family reaction and picture of slain man here.

Conrad Black’s back; Morneau appeals

And Black’s op-ed in today’s National Post is a must-read.

“It had been an interesting experience, from which I developed a much greater practical knowledge than I had ever had before of those who had drawn a short straw from the system; of the realities of street level American race relations; of the pathology of incorrigible criminals; and of the wasted opportunities for the reintegration of many of these people into society. I saw at close range the failure of the U.S. War on Drugs, with absurd sentences, (including 20 years for marijuana offences, although 42% of Americans have used marijuana and it is the greatest cash crop in California.) A trillion dollars have been spent, a million easily replaceable small fry are in prison, and the targeted substances are more available and of better quality than ever, while producing countries such as Colombia and Mexico are in a state of civil war.

And it’s a good point. The risk the state [or the Crown] runs is clogging up the system with offenders who are inconsequential to the overall stated desire to stamp out illegal drugs. Is the fact that so many of them are there an indictment of the ability of law-enforcement to get the big fish?

Black continues:

I had seen at close range the injustice of sentences one hundred times more severe for crack cocaine than for powder cocaine, a straight act of discrimination against African-Americans, that even the first black president and attorney general have only ameliorated with tepid support for a measure, still being debated, to reduce the disparity of sentence from 100 to one to 18 to one.

It truly is disgraceful that two versions of the same drug inspire such different penalties.

But Black’s not done yet:

And I had heard the vehement allegations of many fellow residents of the fraudulence of the public defender system, where court-appointed lawyers, it is universally and plausibly alleged, are more often than not stooges of the prosecutors. They are paid for the number of clients they represent rather than for their level of success, and they do usually plead their clients to prison. They provide a thin veneer for the fable of the poor citizen’s day in court to receive impartial justice through due process.

It happens here too, but IMO not nearly as frequently. It’s one of the worst problems of the Youth Criminal Justice Act – where kids will plead out because they’ll be out faster then they would if they had their charges fully litigated.

And I had the opportunity to see why the United States has six to twelve times as many incarcerated people as other prosperous democracies, (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom), how the prison industry grew, and successfully sought more prisoners, longer sentences, and maximal possibilities of probation violations and a swift return to custody.

Before I got into the maw of the U.S. legal system, I did not realize the country has 47 million people with a criminal record, (most for relatively trivial offenses,) or that prosecutors won more than 90% of their cases. There, at Coleman, I had seen the courage of self-help, the pathos of broken men, the drawn faces of the hopeless, the glazed expression of the heavily medicated, (90% of Americans judged to require confinement for psychiatric reasons are in the prison system), and the nonchalance of those who find prison a comfortable welfare system compared to the skid row that was their former milieu. America’s 2.4 million prisoners, and millions more awaiting trial or on supervised release, are an ostracized, voiceless legion of the walking dead; they are no one’s constituency.”

Former Manitoba justice minister Dave Chomiak promised to introduce a mental-health court before he left politics.

This from the FP’s Mary Agnes Welch, Feb 24, 2008 [her latest short blog has a passing mention of a topic dear to my heart]:

Mental Health Court

There are more than 100 of them in the United States. Ontario has had one for 20 years. And, Alberta’s assistant chief judge wants to set one up in his province to stop people with mental illnesses from getting churned repeatedly through the penal system with no special intervention.

Ontario’s court has a dedicated mental health prosecutor and a staff of workers who can intercept mentally ill people who get repeatedly hauled into court for minor offences. Instead of going to jail, people with Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are diverted into programs. They get help with addictions, priority placement in housing units if they’re homeless and a health plan devised by psychiatrists and counselors.

Chris Summerville, executive director of the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, said studies have shown that at least 16 per cent of prison inmates have a diagnosable mental illness.

“Why are prisons our largest mental health institutions?” said Summerville. “It’s not moral, it’s not ethical, it’s not appropriate.”

Summerville served on a high-powered task force three years ago that recommended a mental health court but hasn’t heard a peep about it since. He said the stumbling block then was a lack of services for the mentally ill.

But Justice Minister Dave Chomiak says he’s committed to creating a court for the mentally ill and hopes to have a plan in place before year’s end. He said such a specialized court has been a dream of his, but the details have been legally tricky.

“Before I leave this practice of politics, there will be a mental health court in this province,” promised Chomiak.

Now consider the fate of Tim Morneau, the Winnipeg ecstasy smuggler who’s about a year and a half into a 20 year prison term.

On Thursday, Morneau appealed — it could be his last chance for a new trial.

Here’s the audio recording of the hearing — note the joking and laughter at various points by the judges and lawyers and the gallery.

Tim Morneau Appeal

Given what Conrad Black has to say about “oversentenced” prisoners – many of whom are there because of the U.S. war on drugs, I’m wondering if Morneau could be considered one of them.

When the man in Manitoba’s now-second-largest drug bust of all time [42 kg. of coke] can get a 10 year sentence after years out on bail, a full trial and motions to suppress [he’ll serve maybe 3 given he’s essentially a first time, non-violent offender].

[He was denied bail this week as he appeals to the Supreme Court to hear his case]

It makes me question what goes on in the justice system south of our border.

What the public doesn’t hear, week 2

Latest instalment of the ongoing effort to document the number and type arrests of quote-unquote ‘normal’ suspects made by police on a daily basis.

Note: Breaches of court-orders or release conditions are now being tallied.

I realized it’s important for people to get a sense of the re-involvement rate and respect many alleged offenders have for court-orders.

Monday

Media briefing held, on the agenda: Gun-trafficking bust, arrests in a stabbing/assault in T-Cona/ Vandalism in River Heights/ Sketches of suspects in sex assault on a 14-year-old girl released.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, sex assault
  • Male, robbery
  • Female, House break, enter and theft, fail to comply with court orders
  • Male, aggravated assault [T-cona stabbing]
  • Male, bail breaches [pending on 5x arson and theft charges]
  • Male, 2x fail recognizance
  • Male, theft under, breach of court order
  • Male, 5x fail to comply with conditional sentence
  • Male, criminal harassment, violate restraining order
  • Male, breaches
  • Female, 4x fail probation orders
  • Male, assault, possess weapon for danger purpose, fail probation
  • Female, Robbery with weapon, housebreak/enter to commit robbery, drug possession, 5x breach of release from police custody
  • Male, assault cause bodily harm, breach [T-cona stabbing]
  • Male, fail attend court, 2x bail breach
  • Male, fail court order
  • Female, Fail probation, prostitution with robbery-related, assault, mischief and 10x breaches
  • Male, fail youth sentence, unauth. possession of weapon, obstruction, drug possession, court order breach
  • Female, fail recognizance
  • Male, fail conditional sentence x3
  • Male, 2x HTA charges [must be a car thief]
  • Male, assault peace officer x2
  • Male, discharge firearm with intent [4-year mandatory minimum on conviction…], 6x weapons offences, mischief property over $5,000 — This is Winnipeg’s pal, Jesse Garrett Thompsett, who was arrested for the North End cemetery vandalism last week. Turns out he was wanted on these charges at the time
  • Female, theft under $5,000, fail comply with release from police custody
  • Female, 2x breach [including attend court requirement]

Note: With exceptions noted, these arrests occurred between Friday morning and early Monday. Unlike last week, I have begun tallying breaches when they are attached to a person’s new substantive offence. The public should know how often court-orders are snubbed.

Tuesday

Media briefing held: on the agenda – the arrest of the police involved shooting suspect from last week, an update to the sex assault on a 14-year-old girl, an appeal for information in a commercial robbery and an arrest after a high-speed chase.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Tuesday (Monday lock-ups) – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear, Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, robbery with imitation firearm
  • Male, robbery with a weapon
  • Male, carry concealed weapon, possession for dangerous purpose, fail court orders x2
  • Male [already pending on 3x possession purpose trafficking] — 3x breaches and 2x HTA, including a requirement not to carry a cell phone [alleged dial a dealer]
  • Female, fail probation x4
  • Male, possession of weapon for dangerous purpose, assault, fail probation
  • Male, theft under, fail to attend court x3
  • Female, fail probation orders x5
  • Male, assault with weapon, fail restraining order x3
  • Male, fail attend court x3
  • Male, assault, fail probation
  • Male, house break enter with intent to commit an offence, possession of weapon for a dangerous purpose, fail probation
  • Male, mischief, fail probation order
  • Male, fail attend court, pending on possession and drug trafficking
  • Male 2x breaches
  • Male, impaired driving, refuse breath sample
  • Male, fail to register as a sex offender
  • Male, breach — pending on a high-profile manslaughter case at the former Empire Cabaret
  • Male, assault x2
  • Female, fail attend court, pending on a robbery with weapon and breach charges
  • Male, possession purpose of trafficking, possession, fail attend court [this one’s interesting…more later]

Note: With exceptions noted, these arrests occurred between Monday morning and early Tuesday. Unlike last week, I have begun tallying breaches when they are attached to a person’s new substantive offence. The public should know how often court-orders are snubbed.

Wednesday

Media briefing held, with the announcement of the new look for the WPS cruiser cars, a child porn arrest with no information in it, 2 missing persons announcements, some preliminary info on the assault outside Bar Italia on Corydon — and later in the day an announcement that 3 suspects charged in a December homicide are now facing first, not second-degree murder charges.

Later in the day, the PIO sent word that their office would be closed Thursday, July 29th to Sunday, August 1st, 2010 included. The duty office would pick up the slack, but you can only contact them between certain hours if you’re in the media. They can get ornery otherwise. Rightly so – they’re kind of quarterbacking police operations in the city in real-time.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Wednesday (Tuesday lockups) – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear, Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, flight from police, dangerous operation, theft under $5,000 & possession of property obtained by crime [Police announced this arrest on Tuesday]
  • Male, failing bail supervision and other breaches
  • Male, fail curfew and checks
  • Male, break/enter and theft [offence happened on Apr. 27, arrested Tuesday]
  • Male, aggravated assault
  • Male, break, enter with intent to commit a crime, possess weapon for dangerous purpose
  • Male, fail attend court [pending on charges dating back to 2005]
  • Male, fail probation conditions
  • Male, fail probation X2 – a ward of the Manitoba High-risk offenders unit (sex offender)
  • Male, robbery with a weapon, house break enter and theft, fail conditions of youth sentence, fail probation
  • Male, fail long-term offender’s supervision order [Aaron Ryan Livingston]
  • Male, fail attent court, assault peace officer x2 and obstruction
  • Male, fail curfew x2 [Manitoba Warriors member]
  • Male, fail curfew x2
  • Female, fail to attend court
  • Male, assault, utter threats, breach condition of prior release
  • Male, voyeurism, possess child porn, make child porn, breach condition of prior release [See story here] Police did not release this and refused comment when asked, wanting to safeguard the ID of the alleged victim

Note: With exceptions noted, these arrests occurred between Tuesday morning and early Wednesday. Unlike last week, I have begun tallying breaches when they are attached to a person’s new substantive offence. The public should know how often court-orders are snubbed.

Thursday

Media briefing cancelled. See Wednesday note, however, advisory sent out regarding an arrest of a Bar Italia employee in connection to the assault on Wednesday. Victim died in hospital.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Thursday (*Wednesday lockups) – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear, Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

[It was apparently a slow day for the kinds of arrests documented here]

  • Male, uttering threats
  • Male, 7x fail conditional sentence [a theme this week]
  • Male, uttering threats, 4x fail conditions of release
  • Male, 2x fail conditions of release
  • Female, drug possession
  • Male, 2x fail probation conditions, assault, 2x fail conditions of release
  • Male, fail attend court, theft of motor vehicle over $5,000, fail conditions of release

Note: These offences occurred between Friday morning and early Monday. Unlike last week, I have begun tallying breaches when they are attached to a person’s new substantive offence. The public should know how often court-orders are snubbed.

Friday

Media briefing cancelled. See Wednesday note. However, Duty office picking up slack. Key release  was the manhunt on for a prisoner released from Headingley jail by accident. Manitoba Justice later confirms he was one of two accidentally let go. Human error blamed, CBC sayeth.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Friday (Thursday lockups)- does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear, Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

Today’s theme should be called: What happens when police conduct traffic stops on a regular basis [would have made a great story for the PIO].

  • Male, drive disqualified – was wanted on warrants for theft under $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, fail release conditions x3 [including to not be in a car under court order]. The warrants were issued by the Dakota Ojibway Police Service. Guys stopped and arrested by WPS
  • Male, 2x highway traffic offences – wanted on warrants for failing to show up to an ID appointment with police, theft and possession of property obtained by crime
  • Male, 3x highway traffic offences -Stopped Thursday and police had him at warrant status for breaching probation
  • Male, fail to attend court, pending on 2x assault peace officer
  • Male, fail report bail supervision program
  • Male, assault POx2, fail to attend court, obstructing PO
  • Male, fail report for ID appointment with WPS, fail attend court, fail probation
  • Male, fail house arrest, fail attend court condition
  • Male, 2x fail release conditions — pending on a sex assault from God’s Lake Narrows
  • Male [Geoff Oliver Reid, fingered as suspect in recent police-involved shooting] was rearrested in custody on Thursday on pending charges of mischief, failing conditions of a release and consuming liquor in a public place
  • Male, 2x fail probation, pending on assault and 2x breach of court conditions

Note: These offences occurred between Friday morning and early Monday. Unlike last week, I have begun tallying breaches when they are attached to a person’s new substantive offence. The public should know how often court-orders are snubbed.

-30-

Tone versus context

Is it just me or is there something odd about the tone of CTV Winnipeg’s 6 p.m. report on a bust of the HA clubhouse on Thursday?

What’s the gag and why the smiling? Did I miss something?

The Province moved in to temporarily  — note: temporarily — seize the Scotia Street hangout under the criminal property forfeiture act. The home’s owner has 40 days to appeal, and he likely will.

Not sure if CTV’s intention was to give the story a lighthearted tone or not, but it struck me as odd.

I have no issue with Stacey Ashley personally, she’s an awesome reporter.

But I thought the seizure was the kind of story that could have benefited from a more serious take out of the issues surrounding gangs and policing in the city.

Not just pictures of cops mugging for the cameras lifting a deadhead gate onto the back of a flatbed.

The long-standing war between the HA and law-enforcement around the world is serious business and should be treated as such, in my opinion. Too many people — some of them totally innocent — have died for it to be in any way kinda funny.

Aside: The comment about the unnamed nearby resident wanting for years to come out and paint pink polkadots on the HA’s front gate, but now he won’t have to … was kind of nauseating.

The point of this:

Anyone who thinks it’s the last we’ve seen of the gang in Manitoba would be sorely mistaken.

Today’s CTV story also kind of rubs me a little wierd, in a ‘bigger picture’ kind of way.

Just before Kelly Dehn passed the torch of the ‘Crimewatch’ beat to Ms. Ashley, he had been reporting exclusively on a supposed epidemic of HA-versus-Rock Machine, biker-related violence that was due to break out and besiege the city at any day.

With that in mind, how is it that today’s story about the “symbolic” dismantling of the HA by taking away their hangout — and the larger implications for the hollow future of the gang —  could make any sense at all?

They’re either powerless and [mostly] in prison, or their not. And that doesn’t happen in a matter of 4 months, and in the wake of Project Divide, which took more than 30 HA-affiliates off the street.

And if they’re not in prison [or even if they are] they’re gonna find ways to make money.

Mail a letter from jail and mark it ‘disclosure’ and the right people get their orders.

That’s what it’s all about for the HA, for the most part. The money. Not indiscriminate killing and shootings and violence. It’s about money.

Police officers taking a house away from them and selling it looks good on TV for a newscast, but it’s not going to halt the big red machine.

The police know this too well.

What I’m more interested in is why the local media don’t take more of an interest in the efforts in Manitoba to police gangs like the Indian Posse or the Native Syndicate?

From a viewpoint of what actually matters to the public — public safety — it’s gangs like this that pose far more risk to society as a whole than the relatively small number of HA or Zig-Zag Crew in the province.

In the past year, I can count a number of things the cops and Manitoba Justice have done to right the wrongs these street gangs pose, so to speak.

Last June [June 2009] the RCMP served notice that they were seeking to designate the IP a criminal organization. A key move that could clear the way for harsher prison terms for IP members in the future.

CBC sayeth:

RCMP pursue gang charge

Bruyere has long been a high-profile target of RCMP gang investigators.

He was already in custody at Manitoba’s Milner Ridge Correctional Centre when he was arrested on the murder charge.

He was charged with assaulting a woman on the Peguis First Nation in July 2009 and has been in custody ever since.

RCMP alleged that assault was committed to further the interests of the Indian Posse, and based on that claim, Bruyere was also charged with participation in a criminal organization.

He is the first member of the street gang to face such a charge, which has not been proven in court.

Police have used the charge to combat motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels in the past.

Their use of it in connection with the Indian Posse is an indication of the group’s increasing sophistication over the last few years.

They’ve also sought out special peace bond applications against IP members about to be released from prison so they can keep tabs on them for a while while out in the community.

CBC Sayeth:

An unrepentant Manitoba gang member, set for release from prison next week, has said he will continue to commit crime.

Christopher Brass, a 28-year-old member of the Indian Posse, is nearing the completion of a 6½-year sentence for a violent robbery spree and for assaulting a prison guard. He has served the entire sentence behind bars, which is unusual in Canada where prisoners are often released after serving two-thirds of their time.

He will be freed on July 14.

According to parole board documents, Brass refused to get help while in prison, which is why he was not released early. The documents also state that he will likely reoffend.

Brass has admitted plans to continue his criminal lifestyle, according to court documents obtained by CBC News. The reports state that Brass said he would continue to commit crime and collect welfare.

Police are cited in the report as saying Brass assaults people for sheer enjoyment and thinks robbery is the easiest way to make a buck.

They were so concerned about him being back on the streets that they requested a special court order — and won. For the next two years, Brass will be bound by a peace bond forcing him into counselling.

The order also allows police to conduct curfew checks and require Brass to notify them if he changes his address.

Such orders are typical for convicted people who avoid jail with a conditional sentence, or are released from prison early. Requesting an order for a gang member who has completed his entire sentence is not something the Winnipeg police service has ever done before.

Crown attorneys have also started using direct indictments against the gang in an effort to show they mean business.

As well,

CBC Sayeth:

Justice Minister Andrew Swan said proposed amendments to the Manitoba Evidence Act would list proven criminal organizations in a government-sanctioned reference document.

The move would eliminate the need for prosecutors to continually have to prove that an entity is a criminal organization in criminal and other court proceedings, Swan said.

“We face the problem of having to essentially prove rocks are hard and water is wet over and over again,” Swan said in a press release. “These changes would establish a single, fair and independent process to determine conclusively whether a group is in fact a criminal organization,” he said.

The proposed legislation is the first of its kind in Canada, Swan said.

So there’s proof out there that something’s being done besides well-publicized takedowns of gang members’ clubhouses.

The ultimate problem is one of gathered intelligence, I think.

The bulk of Manitoba’s police officers are white and male.

The bulk of the street gangs are young, of various ethnic origins and strongly dislike the police and what they stand for. The mistrust is rampant.

For years, police have made great strides infiltrating biker gangs through informants, undercover operations and surveillance.

When it comes to city street gangs, however, things clearly get more complicated.

The tactics have to change, but it’s difficult.

You do things like turn to the internet to find out what you can, but ultimately, it’s a tough go, which is why well-funded intervention and diversion programs are so crucial for kids these days.

Make it so they won’t join up with a set and you’ve attacked the root of the problem on a number of levels.

That includes policing and law-enforcement.

What a puppy’s life is worth

Kevin is an OxyContin addict.

He’s a father to two kids who says, after his girlfriend upped and left him because of the drugs in January, he turned to shoplifting to feed his habit.

But that’s not all he stole.

On Jan. 11, Kevin went to a SuperStore, loaded up a grocery cart with $460 worth of stuff — mostly food, diapers and baby formula — and tried to leave without paying.

He was nabbed by a loss prevention officer. He’s arrested and released on a promise to come to court.

The items were fully recovered. It’s as simple as retracing his steps in the store and replacing the items on shelves.

By Jan. 25, he and another guy had hatched a different plan to score.

Driving around in a van, they’d pull into Safeway parking lots and dispatch Kevin to the store. At the first, he stole diapers; the second, about $120 worth of razor blades.

At the third, another $140 of blades were nicked.

Problem was, The LPO at that store took down the plate of the van as it drove away. Kevin and his buddy were nabbed not long after.

The $200 or so of razor blades were recovered. It could be that you are using one to shave right now. Who knows.

Kevin’s arrested, but this time held in jail until he posts bail a few days later.

All’s quiet with Kevvie until May 18, when he goes to a home on College Avenue where the homeowner is selling puppies.

He sees one — it’s worth about $800 or more — and tells the owner, “I’ll be right back.”

He never returns.

What ever happened to the dog, no one seems to know. The homeowner ID’s Kevin from a photo mug pack shown to her by the cops.

June 15: Kevin walks into a Safeway and stuffs packs of fish fillets down his pants.

He gets in a scuffle with the LPO at that store and runs. Cops pick him up in front of Polo Park.

For all this trouble and theft, Kevin’s handed a 104 day-sentence today. He’s been in since his arrest and got 1:1 credit for the dead time.

His lawyer says Kevin believed the “dog looked sick” and he passed it off to some people he knew.

It seemed that way, to me anyways, that the dog was dead but no one wanted to say it.

It could not be replaced.