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Boy Regresses Under CAS

September 8, 2009 permalink

A fifteen-year-old Espanola boy was removed from his family in January. In April, he got into a fight and injured another student. A judge found it necessary to jail the boy to keep the peace. Overlooked by the judge and the reporter: children's aid got the boy into more trouble in three months than the family did in fifteen years.



Judge slams student for stabbing

“Sentence must be meaningful for you and reinforce societal values."

Posted By Leslie Knibbs, Midnorth Monitor, Updated 13 hours ago

A sentencing hearing was held in Espanola Youth Court on September 2, 2009 for a youth accused of stabbing another youth at Espanola High School (EHS) on April 14, 2009. A fifteen-year-old youth was charged with possession of a weapon, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, carrying a concealed weapon, and obstructing police. As a result of this stabbing, Code Red (school lockdown) was implemented at EHS and several other local area schools causing havoc and worry for many parents of the over 1,000 students that attend the institutions when the accused fled the scene.

The accused pled guilty to assault with a weapon and carrying a concealed weapon. The other charges were dropped. The court heard the alleged facts in the case. In January 2009, the youth was put in the care of the Children's Aid Society (CAS) because of behaviourial problems at home. He was placed in a foster home in Walford.

On April 11, 2009, the accused was invited to go to a party in Webbwood by the ex-girlfriend of the victim. At the party, a fight developed between the accused and the ex-boyfriend. The accused suffered a black eye and a chipped tooth and hitchhiked home to Walford.

The Crown, Kara Vakiparta, suggested the accused brooded all week following this incident. The accused returned to EHS on April 14, 2009, the first day after Spring Break. Both the accused and the victim were seen arguing in the hallway according to witnesses. Evidence submitted indicated the accused was overheard saying, "I don't mess around," while arguing with the victim. The Crown entered photographs of the stab wounds as evidence, stating there were several stitches needed on the shoulder and back; according to evidence there were four separate stab wounds.

Evidence submitted by the Crown indicated the accused obstructed police officers by giving a false name when asked to identify himself and stated he was not from the area. Further investigation revealed the suspect had a student card from EHS identifying him as a student; he was subsequently arrested. Defence Counsel James Weppler called CAS worker, Karen Robinson, to the stand as a witness. As the child protection worker for the accused, she stated they were looking at a group home environment and a drug treatment program for the accused. Defence Counsel Weppler put up a methodical presentation of the facts leading up to the incident starting with the invitation to a party by the ex-girlfriend of the victim, how the accused was assaulted at the party and bullied by the victim and an older person at the party, sending him hitch-hiking home with a black eye and a chipped tooth.

Weppler informed the court the accused had no history of violent behaviour prior to this incident. He suggested the accused needs substance abuse and anger management counselling. He stated the principle of sentencing must be to "promote rehabilitation and reintegration into society." The defence recommended "Portage"(Institution) for custody, where schooling and counselling are available. Weppler added the accused had served 142 days in custody prior to sentencing or the equivalent of 213 days under the formula for credit given. He suggested to the court the accused had served enough time already to fulfill sentencing requirements under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Weppler advised the court, "It would be a mistake to bury him in a custodial system." Crown Vakiparta told the court the accused crime has had a profound on the victim's family, and they are fearful of sending their children to school.

"School should be a safe haven" she stated. She reminded the court of the words of the accused just before the stabbing, heard by witnesses at the scene of the crime while the victim was walking away, "Do you want your sweater all red?" The Crown asked for a period of eight months of secure custody and probation. The arguments of both crown and defense ended at that time. Judge Louise Serre turned to the accused asking him if he had anything to say.

The accused, in handcuffs, stood up in the prisoner's box saying haltingly, "Please, your Honour, give me the opportunity to better myself." A recess was called while the judge deliberated. On her return, Judge Serre spoke directly to the accused stating, "today's sentence must be meaningful for you and reinforce societal values. “The focus must remain on the young person, not be aimed at sending a message to others in the community. It must be individualized to you," she said speaking to the accused. "Your crime has had a shocking impact on the public, and the community; I concur with the Crown, schools must be a safe haven."

With that she passed sentence, eight months closed custody, four-months supervision, twelve-months probation, an order to report to the probation officer, an order to attend substance abuse counselling, an order to abstain from alcohol, no communication with the victim or his family, attend educational programs, a weapons prohibition for two years, and a DNA order. One day credit was given for each day in pre-trial custody.

Source: Sault Star