Last weekend, I wrote about chronic offender/public nuisance Perry Antoine, his release from prison and his upcoming fight with the province over the peace bond justice officials want to put him on for the next two years to try and keep him in check.
The background is all in the story. And it’s quite possible that now, at age 52 and confined largely to a wheelchair, Mr. Antoine won’t reoffend again.
But today, it occurred to me to look more closely at his record since 1979, since he became an adult, and do some math.
In that time, his record notates he’s done 5,746 days behind bars (just shy of 16 years) since ’79.
Using the recently cited provincial inmate housing costs of $174 a day to keep him in custody, that equals:
$1,005,550 — simply to keep him in jail in that time. (This is low-balled. See *note below on why — factoring in federal prison costs would bring us to a staggering $1,610,109).
That’s notcounting the cost to the taxpayer for police to arrest and process him, nor the cost to prosecute or judge him.
That’s simply to keep him detained.
More importantly, that doesn’t count the cost of probation services.
Since 1979, he’s been given the equivalent of 16.5 years worth of probation across various orders.
(Let’s say for the sake of argument he had one appointment a week at an arbitrary cost of $75 for 858 weeks. that’s $64,350).
I couldn’t tell you what the actual value of that in terms of dollars would be, but probation officers — especially the ones working the highest-risk offenders — don’t come cheap. The actual cost is much, much higher, no doubt.
Going forward, there will be more probation costs incurred as the Criminal Organization High Risk Offenders Unit (COHROU) are the Corrections unit tasked with hawking him now that he’s free.
Neither does it count the cost of storing Mr. Antoine in the drunk tank, nor the hospital visits or community health services.
Nor the victim services.
I’d peg the dollar cost to society of dealing with Mr. Antoine at well over $2 million since he turned 18.
While that’s huge, especially since he’s just one chronic offender in a province with many of them, the greater concern to me is the loss of human potential. What a seeming waste of a precious lifetime.
The other thorny issue is how despite our ‘investment’ over the years in Mr. Antoine’s — and society’s — safety and well-being, not much seems to have changed for that.
Something to ponder.
* naturally, he’d be earning parole at some points along the way in both provincial and federal systems. But any decrease in time spent would be counterbalanced by the fact it costs double to house an inmate in the federal system [where he recently served each and every day of an 8-year bit] That cost, Stats Can says, is $357 a day (2010-11 data). Factoring in that figure, it’s $1,610,109. Trust me, I’m a journalist.
While many facts remain yet to be proven or tested, it’s pretty clear something appears to have gone horribly wrong with Christopher Mackenzie Campbell.
Campbell, at age 42, currently stands accused in Winnipeg’s latest homicide — believed to be that of a relative, possibly his mother — in a home on Alexander Avenue this weekend.
It was a rare situation in which police believe Campbell left the city in a family vehicle which is linked to the victim, one located just outside of Regina on Sunday. Campbell made his way into that city and was taken into custody downtown.
He was to be returned to Winnipeg forthwith.
Court records show a charge of second-degree murder is pending. The victim’s identity, including her age, has not been released.
Police this weekend said the following in announcing they were looking for him:
“Campbell has been treated for a mental illness in the past.
Information has been received that he has not been taking his medications as required.
Caution should be used if approached by Campbell as his behaviour may be unpredictable and he may be violent.”
I fear Campbell’s case may end up being another of those sad ones which seem to crop up each and every year.
Those ones where justice system efforts to assist and supervise ultimately clash, fizzle or peter out due to the poor state of urgent mental-health related resources in Manitoba, a pressing topic I only recently wrote about.
In any event, some background:
An incident in summer 2008 ultimately seemed to force Campbell’s hand to seek out help for his issues.
His lawyer at the time called his arrest at that time “a blessing in disguise” as Campbell may not have been diagnosed or sought help if it hadn’t happened.
It was on July 6, 2008 that Campbell approached a total stranger — a landscaper from Shelmerdine garden centre — outside Campbell’s apartment block at 400 Assiniboine Avenue.
He walked up to the gardener and asked him not to use any “power equipment” on the lot — a request to which the victim says he must use a power blower to do his job.
“If you use any power equipment, I’m going to get a sniper rifle and shoot you in the head,” Campbell replied.
He also tossed the glass of water he was holding at the landscaper.
The bizarre threat was overheard by an independent witness.
Police are called, they arrive quickly. Campbell declines to speak with a lawyer while in their custody.
But in his time with police he makes several other concerning comments, including how the interviewing officers seem like “dolphins out of water,” that “he’s a nice guy, almost God-like” and that one officer’s badge number, “is similar to the Mayan’s calendar that adds three years.”
He pleads guilty to a count of uttering threats. An assault charge is stayed.
The Crown agrees to recommend a conditional discharge after learning Campbell — a father to two teenagers — took it upon himself to seek out mental-health help following his arrest.
At the time of his February 2009 sentencing, court was told he was under the care of a psychiatrist and occupational therapist at the HSC’s PsychHealth centre, having checked himself in there for a time.
He was diagnosed with what was described as “mild” schizophrenia.
“It turns out that his mother also has schizophrenia … so perhaps it’s hereditary,” Judge Marvin Garfinkel is told.
At the time, Campbell was unemployed, but volunteering at the HSC in its “spiritual assistance department.”
The former co-owner of the long-then-defunct Rogue’s Gallery on Assiniboine [less than a block from his home at the time] was due to have a first outpatient appointment at PsychHealth five days after his court date.
He was to see the psychiatrist and therapist bi-weekly.
Garfinkel ordered Campbell to serve a year of probation, with a central condition being for him to to comply with the treatment as directed by his doctor. That could include to take medication as directed, Garfinkel said.
Campbell readily agreed to follow the program and conditions the probation order set out for him.
“I’m here today of my own freewill, under your mercy,” Campbell told Garfinkel in a clear, unconfused voice.
“And I just wanted to say … I’ve witnessed for the first time now how the court system works, and, you’re offering a lot of grace today, and I just want to say, ‘thank you,’ for that.”
There are no breaches of the probation order recorded in the provincial court system — and Campbell had no apparent prior or proceeding record of involvement with the law.
From uttering threats to an allegation of murder. It’s absolutely tragic for everyone involved.
While our police have said little about their homicide case — which at first glance seems just a hair’s breadth from a domestic violence killing — They did make it clear Campbell appeared to be off his meds at the time.
It’s too early to make any observations of whether gaps between the justice and mental-health systems are in any way to be faulted or was a factor in the killing.
But the fact is, from early appearances of the case, Campbell was known to be a risk — and at risk — when not on his meds.
His probation was only one year long, so who knows how long he may have been off of them, or off of the radar of the system entirely.
Those answers may come in due course as Campbell’s latest interaction with the system plays out. He’s naturally presumed innocent of the charge he’s facing.
But after years of seeing eerily similar cases, my mind can’t help but wonder: Was this tragedy in any way preventable?
Was there something we as a society could have done to ensure it never happened?
Is under-resourced mental health care and supervision again the grey elephant in a gloomy room?
“It’s not recommended. It’s not a polite term. It’s not a recommendation —It’s an order!” — Provincial Court Judge Marvin Garfinkel
Last Thursday, I wrote about this girl (do read before continuing further) — who’s being held at the Manitoba Youth Centre because no suitable Child and Family Services placement can be found for her.
This, despite the fact Canada’s youth justice laws prohibit young people being detained for child-welfare concerns. The girl isn’t an ordinary case. She requires a specialized placement because of her behavioural and other issues.
Again, she’s just 13 and a permanent ward of CFS.
A few readers contacted me via email and other means to express their concern and, in some cases, disgust, that this was happening.
The case, as the previous post made clear, drew Judge Marvin Garfinkel’s ire, largely because it was clear the powers that be in the CFS or justice system were either unable or unwilling to follow a court’s order regarding her placement, one issued months ago.
Her probation order specifically prohibits her from being placed in a hotel room by CFS or any other agency.
But yet, one of the reasons she was back in custody at a jail is because she was placed in a hotel room after the probation order — a legal document setting out supervision requirements as determined by a judge, not CFS or the province — was issued.
[More on this below. However, note carefully the bolded section of the Crown’s statement to the court].
Thursday, her regular lawyer isn’t in court, but an experienced associate of his is.
Garfinkel, sitting again, is told the two advocates spent the afternoon Wednesday working on a motion which was prepped and ready to file — ostensibly trying to get the ‘provincial director’ to act — and more discussion with Crown.
Also in court this day are a lawyer for the Island Lake CFS agency and a worker, and also a representative from Winnipeg’s B&L Resources for Children, Youth and Families.
There’s still no placement for her, Garfinkel is told.
Still, the Crown is ready to consent to her release.
Garfinkel is told the agency has made attempts, but there is no placement — they are looking into a number of issues.
But, there’s no grounds to keep her in custody as far as I’m concerned, her defence lawyer says.
The lawyer for CFS then steps to the podium and fills the judge in on what’s now happening.
Here’s the bulk of the exchange, verbatim.
CFS Lawyer (CFS): The agency has been working quite a bit on trying to find a suitable placement for [girl] — obviously there’s some high needs involved here.
Garfinkel: Is the child for whom there is an existing order of judge Harvie?
CFS: Yes. I’ll just give Your Honour some more background.
Garfinkel: I recall this.
CFS: This was the matter where Judge Harvie ordered there was to be no placement in a hotel room.
CFS: And you brought to [Lawyer’s] attention. Just so your honour knows the full story, [The defence lawyer] also spoke with … the provincial director yesterday, and brought this to his attention and he’s working to find a placement as well — he’s now aware that she’s not to be placed in a hotel. We also spoke with Corey La Berge from the Child Advocate’s office and [the office] has a worker assigned … and Mr. La Berge is making attempts to assist with a placement at well.
[The worker] has thoroughly exhausted institutional placements. All of them advise that either they don’t have room or they’ll be able to meet her criteria. However, As indicated, there is a case manager here from B&L and a possible foster placement. I’ve been speaking with them this morning. It is anticipated a timeline of about a week to transition [the girl] to that home should that be a suitable placement. It sounds like a good plan is in place there. Of course, the issue we’re faced with today is [the girl’s] imminent release today. [Another person] has made some inquiries to [a program], which is also a placement — they advise they have a place available but they’re, as we speak, reviewing [the girl’s] application, which I should point out was actually made a couple of months ago and no response was ever received from them. So they are re-reviewing that to determine if that spot can be taken by [the girl]. And we are also waiting back to hear if any possible Places of Safety can possibly take her today.
Obviously we don’t want her to remain in custody anymore than anybody else. At the same time, we want to make sure she has a suitable placement to go to. So that is where we are today. My hope is that we can find at least a temporary placement as soon as possible today so that she can then be transitioned into the other home.
Garfinkel: OK. Thank you for your comments.
Crown: With respect to the matter on the docket … it involves three counts from a date of Jan. 24th of this year [assault with weapon and two breaches]. The Crown will be entering a stay of proceedings. It’s because of what’s already been touched upon by my learned friend. The order of Judge Harvie specifically stated that a residence was supposed to be found and not a hotel placement. This incident occurred while [the girl] was a resident at [a downtown hotel]. After my read of the file yesterday, based on that fact alone, I decided that a stay of proceedings will be entered on that matter. And for that reason.
They then proceed with a consent release hearing — she’s officially ordered freed on an undertaking. The undertaking says she must reside as directed by CFS but not be a hotel placement [but the probation order indicates it’s the provincial director’s responsibility].
Garfinkel: I want to thank you all for coming.
Yesterday, we were a little disturbed by circumstances that existed. Quite candidly we didn’t have the information that we have now. And I think you have to remember that this facility is a criminal justice facility. It no longer is a place of shelter under the old Child Welfare Act and the Juvenile Delinquent’s Act. Parliament has made a clear-cut distinction between criminal proceedings and child-protection proceedings. Now, many times, the people involved have both child-protection issues and criminal justice issues. But we have to try and delineate what’s what and what’s what. In this instance, we have this young person accused of committing crimes. She is absolutely presumed to be innocent. She is not to be detained unless the Crown can show cause why detention is necessary. Moreover — she is bound by a probation order which requires her to reside in a certain place. That place is a positive with a negative attachment.
The positive is: she is to reside where directed by the provincial director. The provincial director is a criminal justice official whose office is created by federal legislation. The negative is, that place of residence is not to be a hotel. If she doesn’t like that order, she can instruct her lawyer to appeal it. But until it’s appealed — that order is valid and it must be complied with. None of you here, as I understand it, are representing the provincial director. But each of you may have some conversation with a provincial director and should tell that official that you’re now aware of the order. And the provincial director shouldn’t try to convince you or persuade you to disobey the order …
Defence lawyer: The no-hotel clause came from a [forensic psychologist] as part of a forensic assessment.
Garfinkel: I’m not arguing. Judge Harvie put it into the order. It’s a valid order until it’s repealed or reversed. It must be … if I — let’s say I wanted to do something silly, like say, ‘all of you are in contempt, you’re going to jail,’ – You go to jail. The Sheriff’s officers will physically take you there until the order has changed.
Lawyer: I just want to make it clear to the agency that that’s not likely to change — even if it comes before a judge because it’s been recommended, it’s be ordered. ..
Garfinkel: It’s not recommended. It’s not a polite term. It’s not a recommendation — [bangs fist down] It’s an order. It’s terrible! (obviously referring to how the probation order hasn’t been obeyed).
Lawyer: … I’m just saying if anybody thinks there’s going to be a variation to the probation order, everybody needs to keep in mind that there were very good reasons for Judge Harvie ordering that. And it’s not likely that she would change that is what I’m saying.
So there you have it. For weeks, this girl has been languishing in jail, and suddenly, everyone’s now on board trying to find a solution.
I can’t speak to what caused the dramatic turnaround in attention the girl’s case suddenly received, but it’s heartening to see.
That said, it was clear her ethically and legally-questionable jail stint wasn’t likely coming to a quick end at the end of Thursday’s hearing. Efforts were being made, but no placement was available yet.
Now, what I hadn’t realized when I wrote the original piece about this case was that she was in jail partly because of breaches and other charges stemming from an illegal placement in a hotel room taking place more than a month after Judge Harvie’s original order forbid the provincial director (and by virtue of the order, CFS) from placing her in a hotel.
Nothing’s perfect in this world. I get it. And I suspect that the high needs of the girl’s case played a major role in CFS or the provincial director just trying to find her somewhere to stay in the interim.
But the fact is, this case sends a number of concerning messages to the general public.
Not least of those being: If the powers in place to enforce court orders can’t or won’t obey them for whatever reason, then how can we expect anyone else — like offenders — to follow them either?
It’s a black mark on the administration of justice, in my view.
The courts and offenders often wear blame directed at them from the public and the media when people placed on probation reoffend.
I think it’s clear from this one small case that the blame may lie elsewhere, sometimes.
And, more troubling: the above shows how for some of Manitoba’s roughly 10,000 kids in the care of the state, it’s not all that difficult to fall into black holes not of their making.
What does the “supervised” in supervised probation mean in Manitoba, exactly?
It’s a question churning around and around in my head today as I dug into the wealth of justice system-related background available on Shayla Woodford, a 21-year-old Manitoba woman accused by police of murdering her one-time live-in lover Samantha Cherish Anderson.
Anderson died Dec. 21, weeks after police say she was attacked in a Boyd Avenue home on Dec. 2 — the day before her 24th birthday.
Woodford was accused (and she’s presumed innocent) right from the start, arrested just after the incident on aggravated assault and probation breach charges.
She was officially rearrested for second-degree murder earlier this week.
At the time of Anderson’s death, Woodford was out on bail (for the 7th time since late 2009) and bound by two supervised probation orders meant to either keep her in check, help rehabilitate her or, more likely, both of those things.
While the latest two cases she faces have yet to be proven, Woodford’s habit of getting collared for crimes raises questions about the level of supervision to be expected when a sentenced person is placed on supervised probation by the courts.
An unusual feature is how Woodford’s involvement with the justice system only dates back three years, shortly after she turned 18 and began her relationship with Anderson.
Since then, however, she’s been arrested and released multiple times for a variety of different offences, some of them domestic-related and others not.
To try and make sense of it, I crafted a timeline out of the available information. After taking a number of hours to consider it and its implications, I’ve decided to present it here for the record:
November 2008: Woodford and Anderson begin their relationship.
Sept 12, 2009: The couple are now living together on Young Street. Woodford, drunk on 24 Budweiser beer, assaults Anderson — even turning up the stereo to mask the sounds of the attack — and is arrested at the scene by police. She’s released on conditions she have no contact with Anderson as the case makes its way through the courts.
October 2009: The couple are back living together despite the no-contact conditions.
January 25-Feb 1, 2010: Sometime in this period, Woodford assaults Anderson again after getting a call from her lawyer, who reads to her Anderson’s statement from the prior incident.
Feb 12, 2010: Woodford asks Anderson “who she’s trying to look good for.” The incident prompts Anderson to flee their home and she tells police she’s forced to hide in a restaurant for 30 minutes to an hour to evade her lover. She spends the rest of the weekend at a friend’s home.
Feb 14, 2010: Woodford spots Anderson outside, pulls up in a car and drags her into it. Woodford pushes her into her home, pulling off Anderson’s shoes and tossing them in the snow, telling her “She’s never going anywhere again.” She then bites her on the arm.
Feb 16, 2010: Anderson discloses recent events to police and they arrest Woodford.
March 29, 2010: Woodford is released on bail to live with family, ordered to have no contact with Anderson and stay a minimum of two blocks away from her at all times.
Nov. 14, 2010: Anderson’s mother has a phone conversation with her daughter, hears Woodford in the background and calls police out of concern. Police attend and take her into custody.
Dec. 22, 2010: Woodford, granted bail weeks earlier, can’t raise a required surety, so conditions are changed on this day to remove that condition. She’s freed, ordered to abide by a nightly curfew and again, have no contact with Anderson.
March 4, 2011: Cops investigating an unrelated compliant are sent on a goose chase trying to find Woodford. They’re told she left town for her home community of Fairford First Nation for the weekend.
March 8, 2011: Woodford stops signing in at bail supervision.
June 7, 2011: Winnipeg cops finally catch up to her after they nearly hit her with a cruiser car when she walks out in front of it near Logan Avenue and Tecumseh Street. The warrant for her arrest comes to light.
Aug. 5, 2011: Woodford, held in custody now, pleads guilty to three counts of assault and a number of breaches. Judge Tim Preston cautions her about her conduct toward Anderson and apportions some of her dead time to the various charges she pleaded to. She’s released that same day on a two year long supervised probation order, with conditions including avoiding Anderson for the entire term, take domestic violence counselling and a weapons ban. These marked her first-ever convictions. “That relationship was not healthy, it’s over,” Preston tells her. “I don’t want you having anything to do with her.”
Dec. 10, 2011: A heavily intoxicated Woodford steals a Duffy’s Taxi driver’s cab, only to be arrested behind the wheel not long after. Belligerent, it takes hours for police to get a breath reading off of her. She blows .210, nearly three times the legal limit.
Dec. 12, 2011: She’s released on bail.
Feb 16, 2012: Woodford is again back in court for reasons that weren’t made clear. But they obviously had something to do with Anderson, because her bail conditions are set to include having no contact with her. She is also barred from being in the City of Winnipeg except for probation and court-related meetings or appointments.
April 6, 2012: Anderson and Woodford are riding a city bus together when one of them decides to snatch an iPhone from a passenger’s hands. They flee, but the passenger gives chase. The two women play a game of keep away with the phone until the victim restrains Woodford and Anderson jets off with the phone. Police ultimately arrest both. The charge against Anderson is stayed at a later date. Woodford is charged with the theft and a no-contact breach.
July 6, 2012: Woodford’s second sentencing: Only through her probing the lawyers does Judge Heather Pullan come to discover out a small amount of the troubled past shared by Woodford and Anderson. “What about Ms. Anderson?,” Pullan asks. “(Woodford’s) victimized her before and is now getting in trouble with her,” she says. She’s told it was Anderson who contacted Woodford this time around and that the relationship is “complex.”
Neither the Crown nor defence requests any additional probation as part of this sentence.
Pullan rebuffs that and imposes another two-year term, despite the fact she appears to be holding her nose somewhat due to Woodford’s conduct on the prior order: “This whole line of behaviour tells me you don’t care what the court says, you’re going to do what you’re going to do and victimize people,” she tells Woodford. “You have to understand, Ms. Woodford, you’re running out of chances.”
Pullan did wonder aloud why it was the prior probation term seemed to be failing to help Woodford get straight, but appeared to push the onus right back on her.
“You’re treating this whole thing as a joke. It’s really hard to protect the public from you,” Pullan tells her.
Sept. 12, 2012: Woodford is accused of several new charges, including assault, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and breach of probation. The incident obviously involves Portage Place Mall, as:
Sept 17, 2012: Woodford is released on bail with conditions she live at an address in Gypsumville and not move without permission and to stay away from Portage Place mall.
October 29, 2012: A Probation officer files a report in support of charging Woodford with new breaches as she can’t be located in Fairford, and a relative says she asked for her stuff to be sent down to Winnipeg. The relative refused to give the probation officer the contact number. The officer warns in the letter that Woodford was assessed at “high risk for general criminal conduct” and she has a “propensity to become violent.” A relative told the officer: “She is supposed to be staying with me and I have tried to help her and now I don’t know what to do.”
Dec. 2, 2012: Anderson is attacked with a kitchen knife inside a Boyd Avenue home and police charge Woodford. They say the two were living at the home. A 17-year-old girl is also injured in the attack.
Dec. 21, 2012: Anderson dies of her injuries.
Dec. 24, 2012: Police announce they have charged Woodford with second-degree murder and she remains in custody.
This is the third in a series of sporadic reports about criminally-involved people who habitually inhabit and wander downtown Winnipeg.
There’s a lot more to them and their lives than I’d bet most care to realize.
These are true stories.
“He stated that he is “a city boy” and will remain in the City of Winnipeg.”
It wasn’t until only recently that C found out how old he was.
He made the discovery after a prison guard read the 41-year-old his date of birth off a corrections report.
But then, C’s ignorance about what are (to many people) simply routine facts of life maybe shouldn’t be all that surprising from a man who says his mother consumed so much liquor, solvents and hand-sanitizer that he was “drunk at birth.”
He hasn’t heard from her in three years.
Dad — his namesake — was only introduced to him for the first time at age 16 during a chance encounter at the Manwin Hotel.
Dad is blind in one eye because of the amount he drank. He and C don’t keep in touch.
Accounts of how C’s made-in-Winnipeg journey led him to a federal prison cell for the next six years vary even when recounted by him.
“Confirming the account of his life is difficult as he has disjointed thinking which he accounts to his FASD,” a report states.
But it’s safe to say that since he was 9, C’s been largely ‘living off the land,’ as it were.
That is, wandering Winnipeg neighbourhoods on foot, with the Main Street strip — and its characters and dangers and urban angels — being the constant backdrop of C’s public life, mostly lived on the streets.
He had to grow up fast, he says.
“I know know from the age of 7 to 40 on Main Street there was only pain and suffering,” he said in a recent letter to a probation officer. “When I was 8-9 year of age I felt like I was 15-16 year already. I know it sounds nuts but that part of my life.” (sic)
Then there’s also the good chunk of time C has spent occupying space in provincial and federal jail cells, youth and adult, over the years.
In his fourth decade, the FASD-diagnosed Salteaux/Cree man finds himself HIV-positive, recovering from a recent gall bladder infection that nearly killed him and a blood clot in his lung.
He’s also been labeled a convicted sex offender who took damaging advantage of a young relative introduced to him at a medical clinic in 2008.
He’s assessed at a very high risk to reoffend.
C was recently convicted of aggravated sexual assault after impregnating his 14-year-old, drug-addicted and CFS-involved niece during a 2.5 month-long criminal “arrangement.”
The two would share needles and he’d ply the girl with pills, booze and cash in exchange for sex.
C says he thought of the girl as “a stranger” and was so intoxicated for the entire year that he didn’t remember abusing her. He told a report writer he didn’t have a full understanding of the court proceedings, and had hoped to get a sentence of “time served.”
C’s criminal record is somewhat storied at this point, having amassed more than 40 convictions over his lifetime.
The vast majority of them, however, relate to his street-assimilated “trade” (his word) of “boosting” (stealing) other people’s stuff and reselling it for cash.
But when you’re 9 years old and already living on the streets — likely still bruised and broken from being frequently beaten by a stepdad’s belt and mom’s broomstick, you do what you gotta do.
Simply surviving could be said to be a daily miracle.
Reporting the domestic abuse did him no good, he says. He was “slapped in the face and discredited.” When the violence was directed at his sisters, he tried to step in and was beaten for that, too.
“He was consistently told that he was ugly, wasn’t wanted and that he should’t have been born, which led to suicidal thoughts,” he told his PO.
His six step-sisters each turned to the sex trade. His nine step brothers haven’t fared much better, with many also being locked up — at least one for murder.
By age 8, C’s already thinking of killing himself.
But C? He’s a survivor.
And he says he found at least some safe harbour from the very people who had once likely been mired in similar circumstances as he then found himself.
“He was helped out by various prostitutes and drug dealers who showed him how to live and survive in the elements of Winnipeg. He had people who showed him how to deal drugs and make money ‘boosting’ goods to sell to others.”
He also made some cash by working as a casual at a scrap yard — an arrangement that continued into his 30s.
So that’s what he did. Life on the streets, year after year. The grind.
Somehow, C managed to complete Grade 8.
At 16, CFS punted him to an independent living program and he just stopped going.
He was often kicked out of school for fighting and once — in elementary — expelled for stabbing a classmate with a pencil.
C’s first sexual experience also came at age 9, the same year he started doing drugs, eventually developing a problem with Talwin and Ritalin.
His partner was a 21-year-old prostitute with whom he somehow wound up staying with.
He says they had sex after she gave him a bath one day.
“He reported feeling weird, but believed he was “the man” as he heard people talking about sex but wasn’t sure what it was,” according to a provincial report. “He questions why people make a big deal about it.”
Other sex partners over the years included sex-trade workers, one of whom C married.
A report states they had “up to” four children, all now wards of CFS.
The five-year marriage, as one might imagine, was destructive.
“Their time together was barely a relationship as she was a prostitute that used intravenous drugs, ingested solvents and drank.” As for his part, C admits he often “hid in beer.”
It was his wife who gave him HIV.
She ultimately left him after he was jailed on a prior conviction.
His lineage hails from a reserve north of Regina, but he’s only been there once in his life — for a funeral.
He says he has found some solace with a North End mission, who’s executive director he describes as being “like a mother to him.”
He has expressed hope to change with the help of community groups he’s come in contact with in recent years.
C says he has no connection to his aboriginal heritage. He has no plans to return to his home community when he gets out of prison. That’s his choice.
That leaves us pretty much back exactly where we started.
“The subject enjoys traveling around the city, exploring different neighbourhoods. He presented how this allows him an understanding of how he thinks and other people’s journeys. He commented how he is trying to leave his criminal life of boosting things to sell others behind him.”
“He stated that he is “a city boy” and will remain in the City of Winnipeg.”
In recent days, many have requested the publication of accused Winnipeg serial killer Shawn Lamb’s extensive record of criminal court convictions in full, given his case has raised so many questions about chronic offending.
I present it here, in full, for the public record.
Entries listed note the court centre where the convictions were entered, the charge and the resulting sentence imposed.
This is the second in a series of sporadic reports about criminally-involved people who habitually inhabit and wander downtown Winnipeg.
There’s a lot more to them and their lives than I’d bet most care to realize.
These are true stories.
Downtown Winnipeg tales #2: George Leslie Guimond, 54 (*See note at bottom*)
Garbage bin fires are a big deal in Winnipeg and have been for years, regardless of how one feels about their stature on the overall arson hierarchy.
Look at it from a firefighter’s point of view: He or she doesn’t care that the blaze began in an Autobin or a recycling blue box. It has the potential to spread quickly and become lethal. They’re treated as emergencies.
They cost real dollars to extinguish and are potentially very dangerous. That’s the bottom line.
In the chart provided to city council just a few months ago, you can see that rushing out to trash can fires outstrips other Winnipeg Fire Department emergency calls by not just a long shot — but a long, long shot.
From the information I have before me today — largely collected in 2005 and 2006 after cops tediously tracked an arson spree of his and linked him to 16 trash fires over four days — Guimond doesn’t know or particularly care why he sets them.
He just does it. Last time, in August 2011, it was because a housecat caught his ire for some unknown reason and he light a blue box alight in a Langside Street lane.
The damage was exceptionally minimal — $100 — but that’s not really the point.
His history is the point.
Guimond is 54. He’s homeless and has been homeless and transient for years. But he’s one of us, a citizen of Winnipeg.
He has the equivalent of a Grade 6 education. In 2005, he couldn’t say who the Prime Minister of Canada was at the time — and Mayor Sam Katz was “that baseball guy … after Glen Murray.”
Guimond appears hopelessly addicted to sniffing paint-stripper fumes.
“Mr. Guimond also acknowledged that he has, in the past, experienced visual hallucinations and blackouts, both ‘when high,” a forensic psychologist wrote to the provincial court at the time, when his mental fitness to stand trial on 16 arson-related counts was in question.
Guimond also appeared to understand the mental damage his huffing could cause, but appeared not to care all that much.
“Mr. Guimond was adamant that ‘no one can stop me, I get lots of it on Main Street,’ and firmly expressed his intention to continue using such substances.”
In terms of his understanding of crucial elements of the legal system: his defence lawyer was the guy whose job was to “get me out.” The prosecutor: “trying to get me to do time.”
He’s childlike and vulnerable judging from reports and his demeanour in court.
At the time it was years since he had a stable place to live.
But for me, here’s the tragic kicker of Guimond’s life: He’s messed himself up so badly sniffing laquer fumes that there may be no coming back from it or assisting him.
What I mean by this is: there was no programming for him because his mental illness isn’t a “diagnosed mental disorder” by which he could access assisted-living programs and possibly get right.
Hell, when probation services called an agency (name wasn’t given) to try and get him involved in some kind of “mentor” program that may have been of great help, the agency didn’t even bother to call the officer back.
Then again, in 2005-06, Guimond wasn’t exactly amenable to being helped when it came to trying to find himself a permanent home with the help of Manitoba’s probation services.
How he ended up on social assistance and wandering the streets of Winnipeg’s downtown and West Broadway while high out of his mind (and often locked up in the drunk tank) is hard to say.
Born in Fort Alexander to parents Margaret and Alfred, Guimond says he was never involved in the CFS system and never sexually, physically and emotionally abused. His parents only occasionally drank liquor. He has 15 siblings who live in areas across the country.
For some reason, as a youngster, he says he spent a lot of time away from the home but wouldn’t divulge why.
Dad died in the mid-90s.
Guimond says he’s never been married, but says he was once involved with a woman named Flora whom he had lived with for five years. Asked to give up her address or phone number, he couldn’t.
Guimond also said he had two adult kids with a woman named Margarita years ago, possibly when he worked as a painter in the 1970s for the Logan Heights company, or on railway boxcars that — like himself — pass quietly and lonely through our city, largely unnoticed.
The kids, they don’t live in Winnipeg, Guimond said. He couldn’t say where they’re at or when he last saw them.
His friends, Guimond said at the time, were pawn shop employees.
Sadder still is that those pawn workers apparently didn’t know that.
“The (probation officer) contacted ‘Joe’ from Broadway Pawn. Joe [did not want to provide last name] informed the subject has come into the pawn shop to sell some movies but does not know the subject personally and therefore can not provide any relevant information,” the PO says.
Another name offered — a Robert Chartrand who worked for the government — didn’t pan out either.
All of this is not to say that Guimond hasn’t taken steps to deal with his problems. He faithfully attended a full-time, month-long detox program in 2004 at Pritchard House.
The problem, however: Although he attended and participated in the treatment regime, the concern was he simply didn’t understand any of it; he lacked the mental capacity to apply what he learned to his life.
Now, as we so often see in the justice system, it falls to a judge to try and sort out this mess, to balance what’s best for society with what’s best for the offender, George Guimond.
There’s more to his story to come, however.
Judge Sid Lerner has kept him behind bars as probation services takes another kick at the can of trying to figure out the apparently confounding problem that is George Leslie Guimond, repeat garbage arsonist and citizen of Winnipeg.
Important note to the reader: Many of the details here are taken from court ordered reports authored in 2005 and 2006. A new, updated report is in the works. Now, while it should be said there appears to have been a lengthy gap in his fire-setting or other criminal behaviour from 2007 to August 2011, the underlying social issues that have plagued him don’t appear to have changed. I can’t stress this enough: at the time of the August bin fire, Guimond was witnessed leaning up against an AutoBin clutching a pop bottle filled with a murky brown/yellowish liquid. He had two cigarette lighters on him at the time.
It also must be said that although that great amount of time had passed, his defence lawyer presented no new information about any material changes to Guimond’s life or circumstances on Friday, if that’s an indication of anything.
This is the first in a series of sporadic reports about criminally-involved people who habitually inhabit and wander downtown Winnipeg.
There’s a lot more to them and their lives than I’d bet most care to realize.
These are true stories.
Downtown Winnipeg tales #1: H. M. Jr., 53
There’s something so incredibly sad and yet telling about Mr. M. and his circumstances — also about the hard and lonely realities of his adult life, a good chunk of which has been spent on the streets of our humble downtown.
M. grew up in what he describes as a “good,” religious and abuse-free home on Fisher River First Nation.
He hasn’t been back there in 20 years.
His dad died 40 years ago of ALS.
He suspects his mom has died of old age but can’t be sure. He hasn’t seen her in two years.
He knows his three brothers and one sister live in Winnipeg, but says they have their own lives. He says he speaks to them “when [he] sees them downtown,” as he believes this is where they work.
He asks for nothing from them and they of him.
M. survived a number of years at a Brandon-area residential school as a young man.
It was an experience he describes as “difficult” — one where instructors beat him frequently when they got the chance, he says.
M.’s parents also attended the same school and they were also “punished” and had their “language forced out of them,” he told a social worker.
Despite these considerable hurdles, M. graduated high school and attended two years of Arts at the University of Manitoba.
He’s employable, with a decent track record of steady work, and has in the past been a willing and co-operative participant in counselling and job-placement programming provided by government agencies.
Up until the other day, he had virtually no criminal record except for a theft under $5,000 conviction from the early 90s.
Despite these positives (and a large amount of government intervention) stability and security remain elusive for M. — who has no kids or wife to rely on.
(He has, however, been engaged twice but the relationships ended mutually)
Here’s how M. described an average day in his life to a probation officer:
“The client was asked to describe his typical day. He responded by stating he usually does any of the following: ‘Go downtown, go try to find work, hang around downtown.'”
Soak that in. Drink up its sadness: There’s nothing else M. — nearing 60 years old with half a university degree and a good amount of job and life experience — can identify to do with himself other than hang around downtown Winnipeg.
It gets even more sad when you consider why he hasn’t been seen in the core over the winter.
Arson was suicide attempt
M. is currently a guest of the province for at least the next few weeks as he serves out a roughly year-long jail sentence for arson, disregard life.
He’s been in custody since last fall when he torched the curtains of his Alexander Avenue rooming house suite in what he told cops was a suicide attempt.
Four people, including M. himself, were injured in what ended up being a fairly dramatic blaze.
The elderly caretaker of the ramshackle home was one of two people who lept from an upper-floor window to safety.
M. told his probation officer he was “tired of living” and didn’t think anyone else living in the house was there at the time he set the fire. He changed his mind and fled the burning house.
It was his second suicide attempt in five years. The earlier was thwarted by a friend who found him and called for an ambulance.
M. wasn’t interested in talking to a probation officer about those friends, however.
He did say he has about five of them, who he sees about twice a week when he bumps into them while wandering downtown.
“The sole activity they undertake is to walk around downtown,” the PO notes.
Sometimes, however, they go and drink at somebody’s home.
It’s not explicitly stated what happened to M. in his 30s, but it appears the bottle got a good grip on him at that time and hasn’t really let go since.
He started drinking at 18, he says. More frequently in his 20s.
A few years later, booze became a major issue and he started finding himself repeatedly taken to the drunk tank under the provisions of the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act to dry out.
He has taken at least some steps to deal with his “significant” alcohol problem.
What’s worse is that M.’s mental health appears to be a growing concern as he ages.
In February, he was assessed as a “high” risk to reoffend.
How that might happen, that’s not explicitly stated.
So, Joseph McNabb is back behind bars, just 10 days after she was freed from jail with a time-served sentence of two years jail [one year at double-credit] along three years probation for attempting to rob an injured Evaristo Caniuman in a West End street a couple of years back.
McNabb, who is transgendered and identifies as a female, seemed to have a lot more going for her than a lot of other offenders.
Mostly, she had a place to go [The Elisabeth Fry society transition home] when she got out 11 days ago.
At least some support was there for her. As it has seemingly been through her bail hearings, her prelim, her trial and sentencing.
But by my reading of her new charges, McNabb didn’t even bother to show up at Elisabeth Fry, instead going AWOL for about 10 days, or so the allegation goes.
She was arrested on Garry Street yesterday afternoon.
Probation officers applied for a warrant on the 15th of June after McNabb failed to report to them a day earlier.
Nobody knew where she went off to.
If she’s convicted of the two new breaches she’s facing, that will make 21 court-order breach convictions in her 29-year-lifetime.
While on bail awaiting trial for the killing of Caniuman — she was ultimately found not guilty of manslaughter — she breached court conditions twice, prompting her rearrest.
Those breaches led to a seemingly monumental Winnipeg Police Service press statement that appeared to take aim at the court system and bail conditions.
No one knows why the WPS came out and said it, but here it is for the record:
As previously released, on April 10th, 2009, at approximately 6:00 p.m., uniformed members were dispatched to the area of Sargent Avenue and Young Street regarding a male being assaulted.
It is alleged that a twenty-seven year old male confronted a 60 year old male and began to assault him to the upper body. The victim was subsequently pushed to the ground at which time the assault continued. Upon arriving, officers located both males.
The suspect was taken into custody. The victim, identified as Evaristo CANIUMAN was conveyed to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Twenty-seven year old Joseph William MCNABB of Winnipeg has been charged with Manslaughter.
On August 31, 2009 MCNABB was released by the Courts. Since his release MCNABB has failed to comply with conditions of his release on two occasions.
On January 10, 2010 MCNABB failed to comply with conditions of his Recognizance and was subsequently arrested by police.
On April 13, 2010 was once again released by the courts.
On August 23, 2010, MCNABB failed to comply with conditions of his Recognizance and a Warrant was issued for his arrest.
On August 24, 2010, MCNABB was located and arrested in the downtown area.
He has been detained in custody.
It’s important to note that at sentencing, McNabb faced a Crown who seemed adamant she should serve as long as three years for the attempted robbery, based largely on her past breach convictions.
The judge, however, didn’t buy it. He said efforts to rehabilitate her were in the best interest of society and her own.
Her own, extremely able, lawyers argued that the bulk of her remand time at the Winnipeg Remand Centre was spent in isolated, horrible conditions, marred by ridicule and scorn from other inmates and the occasional corrections officer.
But I have only one question.
If it was that bad, how did she ever wind up there again?
Here’s the link to Justice Hanssen’s decision on sentencing
Here’s the link to Justice Hanssen’s decision on conviction