Dope-dealing kids and perpetuating the false promise of gang life

ImageWhen an adult gets pinched for possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, he’s more than likely envisioning prison time as the picture of what his future will look like, for better or for worse.

A juvenile? Not so much.

That’s even when convicted of multiple counts of trafficking an incredibly addictive drug known for its violent spinoffs and contribution to social decay.

That was evident today during a sentencing for a 16-year-old Mad Cowz gang member who pleaded guilty to not one, but two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking crack since last fall, along with a joyriding charge and several breaches — many of which had to do with his persistence in handing around with other Mad Cowz.

Mad Cowz have been in the news a fair amount as of late, largely because of a recent police project which took down 10 members of the gang’s so-called “hierarchy.”

If memory serves, five of the 10 were youths. The teen in question was not one of those picked up in Project Recall.

(The project’s work began in earnest — perhaps co-incidentally, perhaps not — after a Mad Cowz-linked fatal shooting of a rival B-Side gang member in a late-night restaurant in February.)

In any event: the teen sentenced today has been out of custody on bail for all but the last few weeks.

In one trafficking charge, he was nabbed Oct. 28 by eagle-eyed cops on Ellice avenue with a garbage bag with 27 rocks of crack inside it after the youth was seen trying to pitch it, and then going back for it when he thought the cops stopped watching.

He also had $260 cash on him. He’s arrested, released from the youth jail but back in, briefly, by Nov. 15, when he breached curfew and was tracked down with the help of a K9 dog and the police chopper.

And then, most recently, he is picked up again May 21 after being spotted on Beverly Street in the company of one of the Project Recall youth suspects, one who was granted bail after his arrest in the project [also a youth].

This time, he’s nabbed holding 16 rocks of crack and $135 cash and a cell phone.

The teen has no record. Therefore, his sentence was pretty much written in stone the minute he started seeking a Crown position: Two years of supervised probation and a relatively stern talking-to by the judge who cautioned him of what he’d be facing if he was just two years older, and how he didn’t believe the offender when he says he was preyed upon by other Mad Cowz members to take part in the gang.

At the end of the day, we have to wrestle with how this sentence in any way stops him from trafficking again, forces him to take the justice system seriously.

It mystifies me, personally.

(And lest we misplace blame, it’s the Youth Criminal Justice Act which really determines how it all shakes out, not the judge nor the lawyers).

And it’s not that I feel he’s getting off light. It’s just that he’s shown he can’t comply on bail, so I question what good a punishment of probation in the community will do for him — and for us.

I also wonder about the message the sentence sends the gang’s higher-ups, who are watching closely how the system reacts to what they’re doing.

That crack doesn’t just come from nowhere.

The revolving door of youths being effectively used by adult offenders to do their dirty work can’t close if the head honchos are perpetually told that the penalties are so light.

The false promise of gang life will continue to be sold.

The judge’s tirade came maybe just a bit too late

Judge Fred Sandhu

You gotta admire Provincial court Judge Fred Sandhu.

At the same time, you have to pity the fact he can’t simply walk into the CBC or the offices of any other media outlet in Winnipeg and put his opinions on the record for all to hear.

It’s the job of the media to be there to hear what judges like Sandhu have to say. And in this case, only the Winnipeg Sun was on September 30, 2011 — a few days prior to the election — but his words apparently went largely un-noticed by the electorate.

Sandhu was charged on that day with sentencing Daniel Smith, 26, for cracking a broomstick over the head of his wife while she breastfed their child. Then he stabbed her a few times with it.

They were fighting over beer, and the fact money was used to buy the baby essentials at Wal-Mart instead of more booze. The overconsumption of liquor and resulting problems has been a frequent issue in Smith’s life, Sandhu heard.

Without question, one of the most read and commented on posts on this blog in the last year was a recent one about Manitoba’s booze problem and its impact on our soaring violent crime rate.

And how it should be a key focus of any political party seeking reelection if they’re truly serious about ‘getting tough on crime.’

While many comments were positive and agreed to varying extents with my position, others — sent by email, largely, attacked me for taking a perceived prudish and anti-personal-responsibility stance on the issue of alcoholism and booze consumption in our province.

It’s like the Air Canada story that’s been rocking the airwaves this week. The truth hurts.

Sandhu, for whatever reason — frustration, anger, boredom — whatever, used Smith’s case to rail about the provincial booze-influenced-crime issue for an extended period of time.

In addition to my short story in Metro Winnipeg (Dean Pritchard’s earlier story is here), I wanted to put his “tirade” on the record in full.

Here it is, mostly verbatim, for the public record, emphasis mine.

‘Did you hear what you did?’ — it’s rhetorical.

Your behaviour was animalistic. That’s not the way even semi-decent human beings behave.

… It appears to me is what she did is she was asked to get beer and she changed — didn’t want to.

She went and got baby stuff instead because of some reason; she felt the baby needed some stuff.

And here you were, you and your wife and this cousin (Note: she’s 12) — I don’t know how much she was drinking, you were insistent, as was your wife,

‘No, we want to drink.’

That’s much more important to you than anything else.

‘We want to drink’ and if you don’t drink, she comes back without beer, without alcohol and it’s  — you get so upset with this that you hit her over the head with a broomstick — and that wasn’t good enough for you. While she’s holding the four-(month)-old, as I’ve been told, that wasn’t good enough for you and you start stabbing her with it.

All for what? For alcohol? Because you wanted more alcohol?

I don’t understand. I understand the power of alcohol — and that people do what appear to be very evil things because they were under the influence of what can be a very evil substance.

And I’ve been told that the combination in terms of costs to society of alcohol is many, many times greater by factors of 10 and 20 and 30 than any — all of the other drugs combined.

And that’s what we see here day to day, the effects of alcohol. And we hear about people doing these evil things and they say: ‘Well, I’m under the influence of alcohol.’

And I understand that that’s not an excuse, it’s not an excuse, but it shows me — and it’s shown to me day after day, and year after year, the incredible evil of alcohol on certain people. In certain situations.

And the evil is compounded by the fact that even when people appear here, time after time, having done what appear to be evil things, they can’t stop.

They continue to drink — and they continue to do evil things.

And then we look at all that and go, ‘well, is it the person that’s evil?’ The act was certainly evil. ‘Is the person evil? Is alcohol evil?’

You can’t ignore the fact that alcohol’s involved in all of these things. And here’s an almost perfect example of a person who can’t get the alcohol, who can’t get the thing that they crave and they do these animalistic things.

All for the power of alcohol — because of the power of alcohol. Sold at the corner store.

Friendly neighbourhood grocery store soon. 

And we wonder ‘how come there’s so much crime, how come there’s so much apparent evil in the world?’

And the only thing I hear about the alcohol is, ‘Oh, people are using it as an excuse,’ ‘Oh, why should they get less time because they’re drinking alcohol?’

That’s not the point.

The whole point being missed is what alcohol does to people, how it changes their behaviour, how they don’t even remember what they did.

Somebody who is on cocaine or marijuana or on speed, or on meth — you don’t see them doing these things. Maybe once in a while, something happens, an overdose …

But what happens day after day, month after month, year after year, case after case — is alcohol.

And people try to do things about it and get treatment — they try to go through rehab time and time again. They come back to court, thy lose their freedom. They lose their family, they lose their jobs, they lose their lives — they know other people have lost their lives and they still drink. Absolutely no control.

The control is completely from the substance — and that has to be recognized.

I‘m getting tired of this, in that the … the effect of alcohol people, and the complete lack of treatment facilities in this province to deal with it and people burying their heads in the sand about what the reality is. 

Has to end. Look what it’s doing to our society. And the courts are supposed to deal with it? How can we deal with it?

The only power that I have is to take away your freedom. That’s my ultimate power. That’s it. That’s all I have. When you leave the courtroom here today, you’re not to be punished any further — your punishment is your loss of freedom and that’s it.

When you go to jail, you’re not required to do anything … you’re not required to go to rehab, you’re not required to deal with the alcohol.

You don’t want to, you don’t have to. That because the only power the court has  — your loss of freedom. There is nothing other than the lower penalties that we have, the fines and so on. But the ultimate penalty is simply your loss of freedom.

And it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with all the time on your hand — because you’ve had lots of time on your hands and you’ve done nothing about your alcohol — I haven’t heard anything from your lawyer that you’ve even tried. Maybe you’re one of these people that alcohol is such a strong attraction that you don’t care. You don’t even care for rehab. There’s even a song about that: ‘You don’t even care for rehab,’ because you want the alcohol.

For you, the shining light on the hill is alcohol and you stab people and you hit them over the head with a broomstick and you run up a criminal record that’s three pages long — all alcohol related.

And you’re one of those people that’s only going to quit when you’re face down in the ground.

Is that what you want to be? Is that your life? Four-month-old baby — you’re going to lose your baby, you’re going to lose your life, you’re going to lose your freedom, gonna lose your job — if you had one — that didn’t stop you.

And eventually, there’s gonna be a time where you could well be locked up indefinitely.

Because if you have no control over this substance that makes you such an angry person, makes you do such evil acts — even though you yourself may not be evil ‚ then we have to deal with the evil act. We can’t deal with the person anymore — there’s comes a time, and as I said, the courts have very limited power. We can’t cure the problems of society by sitting here and sending people to jail. It’s not our job.

That’s the job of society to deal with it. And society wants to bury their heads in the sand.

And don’t blame the courts for not being able to fix society’s evils.

Sandhu even made the point of jumping Smith’s time for failing to comply with a probation order for verboten drinking by 15 days (from 45 to 60).

“I think even the two months is generous,” he said.

He even rubbed it in a tiny bit by ordering that Smith pay the $300 victim fine surcharge in the case — a penalty usually wiped out when a person has been locked up for months and months because they’ve likely lost everything. Smith was credited with double time for just shy of a year behind bars.

Just a final word, Mr. Smith. Do something about your alcohol. Unless you want to die, do something about it. I know many people who are very fine people when they are not drinking. And they’re completely different people when they are drinking. And if they didn’t drink, I would say that we wouldn’t even see them. Wouldn’t even see them in court — but we see them time after time after time.

And I give this speech to a lot of people — well, part of this speech to a lot of people — I know it doesn’t get through. All I can try to do is tell you that there is help available. If you don’t take advantage of it, you’re going to be back here again. And again and again and again.

… It’s your life. You’ve got another 50 years to go. Is this how you want to spend it?


Minor annoyances

There’s a few small things that have been nagging at me lately.

1] Police disciplinary records and the ‘rush to expunge.’

Absolutely wicked editorial today in the WFP about this issue. I’m guessing Catherine Mitchell penned it. Why she’s not a regular public columnist  bewilders me. (Here’s another good recent one.)

From the piece:

The fact it passed council without a whiff of debate is damning.

Well, what irks me is, what do people expect? There is absolutely no public police oversight body in the province that has any tangible teeth. You can’t expect council to carry the water for an independent police oversight body.

And yes, LERA, I’m talking about you, despite the fact you only look at non-criminal complaints against police.

It’s now approaching the end of 2011, and we’re still waiting on your annual report from 2010. That’s not an indication it will say anything, but still. Sheesh.

On the municipal level, City Hall’s protection committee, despite having the authority to ask questions of police brass on behalf of citizens, has long been neutered by the unspoken sentiment that nobody on council will dare irk the WPS by asking tough questions, let alone fostering a real debate on policing and police budgetary issues.

I point you to this prior post where, just weeks after four people were shot (three fatally) in the North End and Point Douglas, and not one ward councillor on the committee had a question for the divisional commander of any real consequence. Sad.

That’s beside the point.

The fact that police want a five-year expungement exemption for discipline records doesn’t mean anything, really, in my humble view. It’s reasonable to expect that a police officer can go five years without issues and have their prior record expunged. Cops aren’t perfect, and they deal with seriously bad-assed people. Stuff goes wrong.

Is every one of your decisions perfect?

Aside from this, the Winnipeg public has never seen, nor had a right to see, police service records nor attend discipline hearings formal or informal.

I can count on one finger where I’ve seen the records asked for in court as part of the disclosure process, and that came to nothing.

To me, it’s much ado about nothing from the police end of things.

But, the fact that city politicians let the issue pass in a ‘breathless’ manner should surprise nobody. Not one whit.

2] Where’s Minister Swan?

Maybe I’m missing something, but the only single time I’ve heard a peep out of Justice Minister Andrew Swan (Minto) during the current election campaign is when he said a few words at the police officer memorial at the legislature last weekend. He spoke well.

But what I don’t get is why the provincial Justice Minister, in an election where crime and the solutions for it (should be) a front-and-centre issue for everybody, has been virtually silent.

I just don’t get it, and I guess I expected to see him front and centre stumping for the NDP.

To be honest, the crime and safety platforms from each of the parties are sorely lacking in my opinion. Only the poor Libs, have shown at least some clue that more cops ‘walking the beat,’ a new gun unit or some GPS bracelets aren’t the end-all solution to address our long-term crime problems.

Maybe someone should think about the fact that ‘cops on the beat’ isn’t just about lack of resources, it’s also about officer safety.

You’d be a lunatic to walk up and down College Avenue in a police uniform at any time of day without backup or a cruiser car nearby.

Sheer lunacy.

3] Kid Killers

 14 years old, maybe 80 pounds soaking wet, and now an accused killer of the premeditated kind. In other words, the worst, most reviled kind.

That’s the reality in the case of the teen who allegedly pulled the trigger on the fatal shooting of David Vincett on Boyd Avenue last Sunday.

The associated image is a social media profile picture from an account belonging to the accused, who was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting the guy in the face and leaving him to die.

[UPDATE EDIT] He was recently sentenced for firing a shot at a postal carrier, not as I otherwise suggested. Apologies.

He’s 14 and entrenched in a feared and loathed street gang.

Wow. The theory I’ve heard is that while in jail for the robbery, he was likely ‘schooled’ in how to come up in the IP, make a name for himself.

IP versus MOB.

Although there’s serious doubt as to whether Vincett was a bona fide member of the MOB. Given his ADHD, he may have just blurted out the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Still, that makes Two young people dead in two weeks (teen Clark Stevenson’s stabbing was Sept. 10). The accused in the Stevenson case was arrested while on remand for a vicious stabbing.

Let’s remember:

In 2004, it was Mad Cowz beefing with the B-Siders, and the killing of a young Mad Cow (Shaggy) that forever altered the street gang landscape in the city.

After the Mad Cowz leadership refused to retaliate for Shaggy’s killing to the level that some in the gang felt was needed, the African Mafia was formed. ‘

Not long after, the infighting led to the murder of Phil Haiart. That led to the establishment of ‘Operation Clean Sweep’ – a police and political effort to crack down on gang crime in the West End. That in turn led to the creation of the current Street Crime unit of the WPS.

I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that again.

An irk I have is with media planning in the city — this city, rife with young offenders of all stripes and tendencies.

When are we going to wake up and see that youth crime ought to be a major focus for any outlet?

Cover the cases, get to know the trends and take it seriously when planning crime coverage.

I believe — and maybe I’m wrong — that the general public cares deeply about it, about trying to solve it.

No, you may not be able to name the kids, but that doesn’t mean that the issues and crimes they commit are any less serious.

Now that the police scanners have gone dark there may be a push to do just this. Who knows.


City crime fight will take vision, focus and will: Linden

(Rick Linden/U of M)

It took vision, planning, co-ordination and resources to get Winnipeg’s new stadium and NHL team off the ground, and the same principles should apply to how we grapple with our perpetually aggravating crime rate, one expert says.

University of Manitoba criminologist Rick Linden said if Winnipeg is to truly make a dent in reducing crime, the city and province should consider setting up what he calls a “responsibility centre” to tackle the problem.

A key feature would be the appointment of a city crime czar with a crime-reduction mandate.

“We need to take a long-term perspective, put somebody in charge of that job and give them resources. We don’t do that now,” Linden said.

He said such an agency’s first step would likely need a good deal of meat-and-potatoes policing to help communities foster change in a safe atmosphere.

The next would be rebuilding community institutions, merging crime-prevention programs and providing them with stable funding. There’s a lot of community volunteers in the city willing to take on such a challenge, Linden said.

Finally, hang on to crime-reduction gains by ensuring resources aren’t diverted or depleted over the long-term.

“To think we can leave it to this multiplicity of agencies with no focus is quite astounding to me, actually,” Linden said. “It isn’t rocket science, it’s taking things (already) out there, setting up process and enabling it to succeed.

“It does require will,” he said.

The university professor was one of the key people behind a comprehensive strategy to reduce auto theft in Winnipeg. Under the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy, auto theft has dropped 86 per cent over 2006 numbers, Linden said.

The program coordinated the efforts of Manitoba Public Insurance, Manitoba Justice and Winnipeg police to keep tabs on teen car thieves that wreaked havoc on city streets when they were not in jail.

Alberta has made great efforts to develop a “large-scale” program to curb crime, Linden said. Calgary’s police-reported crime rate as reported by Statistics Canada is far lower than Winnipeg’s, he noted.

In addition to keeping car thieves in check, what WATSS also does is prove a data-led, coordinated approach to a crime issue can work, and work well, said Linden.

“It’s a long-term strategy, but if we really want to make significant gains … we can take some dramatic steps,” Linden said.


—Reprinted from Metro Winnipeg 21/07/2011

Link to Stats Can’s Juristat article here:

Major Crimes: A week in review III

Confession: When I sit down on Saturdays to construct these link-based posts, I take a couple of minutes to think about what comes immediately to mind — to me — over the last seven days in Winnipeg. They’re by no means comprehensive or complete. As well, although I work for CBC Manitoba, and many of the outbound links refer back to CBC stories, I do take it as a matter of fairness and balance on this, my personal blog, to reference the good work done by other media outlets.

That being said,

The nearly four million-dollar police whirlybird versus the $2 laser pointer drew, I’d say, the most number of hits and comments of all the crime-related stories in Winnipeg this week [sadly]. Looks like Sheldon Friesen of Toronto Street got more than he bargained for with his eBay purchase. However, while former dep. chief Menno Zacharias makes a point in his blog about how police responded with a heavy hand to the incident, there’s an argument to be made that the WPS had no choice but to throw the book at the accused in hopes of getting its point across. Put another way. If I walked up to a cop on the street and shined a laser pointer in his or her eyes, how would I expect to be dealt with? Common sense tells me I wouldn’t be treated like a silly prankster.

Quoth Menno:

When police over react, the media will over react, which is what we are seeing.  One news outlet actually featured a rambling interview with the suspect marvelling at how by simply  using a two-bit laser pen, he was almost able to bring down a 3 million dollar helicopter.   This only serves to sensationalize what is a serious issue.  The suspect was nabbed quickly and efficiently by the police.  No fanfare was needed.

I think what fuelled what he perceives as fanfare is the fact Chief McCaskill was already slated to appear on a radio show the morning that the event took place. There was no question that he needed to be asked about his views on what happened, and it went from there.


Interesting article here on the rising number of laser pointer “attacks” on aircraft in the States.

2] Moving on: The Winnipeg Free Press is to be commended for purchasing and publishing the complete transcript of the Justice Dewar decision that landed him in hot water with the public and the Canadian Judicial Council. While the flames of outrage abated somewhat this week, Gordon Sinclair’s apologia today appears to have reignited them. But let’s face it: Unless you read or hear the whole thing, it’s really impossible — not to mention morally murky — to pass judgment on the judge.

The whole affair reminds me of one of my favorite moments from the acclaimed HBO show, The Wire: anti-hero Omar in one episode fends off a poorly-planned and executed revenge plot:

3] The Winnipeg Police Association made some noise this week about the Downtown BIZ requesting $100,000 to ensure their downtown watch program keeps a’running and dragging vagrants and drunks to the tank. The WPA told The Sun’s Tom Brodbeck (twitter @tombrodbeck) that tasks like this are a major reason the newish Winnipeg Police Cadets are around and that the cadets are better trained to deal with the drunks than the downtown watch folk. In a statement to Brodbeck, WPA president Mike Sutherland makes an interesting observation:

The reality is that the Downtown Biz is seeking its own private police force to be paid for by the taxpayers of Manitoba. Putting aside the legality of such a request (which is, as you probably know, the subject of ongoing legal proceedings), I share the concerns of his members as they relate to public safety in the downtown area. I just disagree with the best and most cost efficient way to deal with that concern. I remain steadfast in my view that if the real concern is to provide the most effective and cost effective service to his members, Mr. Grande would embrace the concept of diverting the funds that exist to the Cadet Program. Unfortunately, the perception left is that Mr. Grande is more interested in feathering his nest than addressing the real concern.

But Chief McCaskill appears to be on the side of maintaining the BIZ patrol, saying if the Cadets were to absorb it, it would negate the officer-assistance role the light-blues do for officers.

It’s hard to fathom that this dispute couldn’t have been forseen prior to the Cadets coming online late last year, but here we are.

Personally, I’m with Sutherland on this issue. The city can hire up to 200 Cadets [who also raise the potential rate of viable recruits for future police officer classes]. Hire another 50, try and grandfather in and train as many Downtown Watch patrollers as possible and assemble a 24-7 Winnipeg Police Service Cadet downtown patrol program.

They’re already based on Graham Mall. Just from an optics perspective, it would look like a no-brainer for the WPS.

As an aside, my colleague Katie Nicholson put forward a great story on Friday regarding the rising costs and effort going into dealing with drunks downtown.

4] The federal department of justice has its hands full with extraditions lately, with the latest arrest on behalf of the U.S. government coming this week. It appears one part of this particular drug-conspiracy case has been covered by crack Vancouver Sun reporter Kim Bolan (twitter: @kbolan her blog — The Real Scoop — is here). I note with interest a passage from her February feature story on a sentencing hearing for businessman Silvano Cicuto:

According to U.S. prosecutors, Cicuto is a member “of a drug trafficking organization based in part in British Columbia,” who, with co-conspirators, arranged for large quantities of ecstasy and a similar synthetic drug called BZP to be delivered to New York.According to court documents, the DEA first got wind of the drug ring when a confidential informant told agents in June 2009 that “he had met and spoken with a Canada-based individual named Shaun Sunduk who distributed large quantities of ecstasy pills.” The informant passed along Sunduk’s number and the DEA called for some sample pills.

They arrived on July 1, 2009 in a small package from New Westminster, where Cicuto was living.

Through Sunduk, the DEA’s agent ordered 100,000 more pills from the B.C. drug gang. Sunduk referred to Cicuto as his “boss” in texts to the agent. Cicuto called the DEA plant directly several times, complaining in one call that his driver had been robbed of 100,000 pills.

Court documents say Cicuto, who the DEA agent called “the old man,” used sophisticated drug trafficking jargon to describe the potential of his ecstasy and relayed messages as to when his couriers would be crossing the border.

After one driver was arrested in Minnesota, Cicuto complained to the undercover agent that “Sunduk’s people had lost the shipment of 100,000 pills and that he was no longer working with Sunduk.”

Given Sunduk’s impending (and now executed arrest at his home in Grande Pointe just south of Winnipeg), prosecutors quickly moved to seal the criminal complaints in the Cicuto case and not prejudice his right to a fair trial.

But given the prosecution’s assertion that a drug mule is willing to testify against Sunduk — it proves again the U.S. system of massive penalties for drug offenders often provide a huge boost to law enforcement to go ‘up the ladder’ in an effort to try and hit larger targets.

It brings me back years to the work I did for the Winnipeg Free Press who allowed me to head to Montana to cover my first-ever trial (seriously) — that of Tim Morneau, a Winnipegger who was ultimately convicted of smuggling massive amounts of ecstasy across the border and is serving a 20-year sentence.

In a post trial interview, the State’s District Attorney, William Mercer, explained why the ‘up the ladder’ strategy is one employed so often (From my WFP blog called, ironically, The Crime Scene in April 2009):

But for all our obvious efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate criminals, there’s one thing the U.S. in their stiff sentencing laws that I’m sure criminal investigators in our country salivate over.

That is: a workable and successful method of getting low-to-mid level criminals to roll over on the “big man” (as Morneau called his ecstacy connection) because doing 30 or 40 to life just can’t seem worth it after the jail cell slams shut – or is just about to.

At least this is what Mercer claims is really behind the high sentences many criminals – including drug traffickers – receive in the U.S. for the large part.

“Drug cases are built on co-operation,” Mercer said. Only slightly tongue-in-cheek, he added that the stiff prison time can be seen as “tremendous incentives” for inmates to co-operate with investigators so they can go after the top-guns in the drug world.

“Our goal is to root out entire organizations,” Mercer said.

5] I note that CTV Winnipeg has a story coming Tuesday on MPI compensation for car thieves injured in crashes, an issue that I’m sure will enrage a few out there, because nobody likes car thieves, better yet ones who get ratepayer money to help in their healing.

At the end of the day, I suspect there’s only one thing to blame, and that’s MPI’s no-fault insurance policy. Besides, MPI isn’t shy about suing car thieves for the damage they cause. Whether they ever recoup the money, however, is another story.

6] Underplayed this week was the tale of Fred Skelton, an old man who was caught with a massive collection of sick child porn years ago. Crown and defence say they could live without him going to jail, but the judge could still order it.

(Robert Tapper)

7] As expected, an appeal has been filed in the case of two police officers accused of perjury and other offences. Lawyer Robert Tapper told me this week that he’ll point to a section of the trial transcript from its first day that he believes shows identity was not a live issue in the case [click picture to enlarge]. What Tapper will point to is a comment by Const. Peter O’Kane’s defence lawyer Sheldon Pinx on the exhibits that jurors were given [Lines 18-22].

I have very little left over from my notes this week: other than a former drug addict filing for restraining orders against her former dealers [that’s about as interesting as it gets] and a hint for my loyal readers that a major crime story could break this week or next, but it’s not related to any person or criminal incident. That being said, it could have an overwhelming impact on crime perceptions — and what you’re told about what’s happening ‘out there’ — in Winnipeg.

To be honest, I’m surprised no one has reported it yet. If no MSM gets to it by Monday, I will here.

As well, I’m contemplating a post on the following topic: ‘what is a crime reporter’ in the wake of certain comments made by a local blogger regarding the media coverage of the recent killing of Elizabeth LaFantaisie. Consider this a request: If you have a thought on that topic, please drop me a comment.