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Two-year youth sentence and firearm ban for Waterville rioter

Waterville youth jail
Waterville's Nova Scotia Youth Centre (file).

Man to stay at Waterville youth jail unless moved to adult facility on separate matter

KENTVILLE – A man who helped carry out an inmate riot at the Waterville youth jail has received a two-year youth sentence to be served at the jail despite the Crown’s application for an adult sentence.

The young man, who cannot be identified since he was a youth at the time of the September 2016 riot, sat with hands clasped and eyes forward as Judge Alan Tufts described why he felt a youth, rather than adult, sentence was the proper approach in this case.

The man pleaded guilty last June to pleaded guilty in June to three counts of assaulting a peace officer causing bodily harm and one count of assaulting a peace officer with a weapon.

Noting the man’s lengthy record, which includes convictions for murder, assaults, weapons and threats, Tufts said such factors could lead “a court to impose a longer sentence than it would otherwise.” He also noted the defense’s point that the man had spent a year in relative isolation while being held for a time in an adult jail in Pictou County, and that while it remained clear the man played a main role in the riot, there was no evidence proving who instigated it.

Tufts said even with noting the man's lengthy list of convictions, he was inclined to follow precedent set by a previous sentencing in the case, which saw another man – who was 18 at the time of the incident – receive a 2-year, three-month youth sentence.

He handed the man a two-year concurrent custody and supervision sentence for each charge and a firearms ban to last two years beginning on his date of release. This will be added to time the man is currently serving for other convictions.

“I’ve thought hard about what I would say to you,” Tufts said, calling attention to the man’s “fatalistic” views.

“You don’t have to continue living the life you’ve come to know. I hope you get to a place where you make positive decisions that better yourself, your family and your community.”

The man stood up as he received his sentence and smiled, waving at several people present in the courtroom before he was escorted out.

The Crown had applied for the man to be sentenced as an adult for his charges stemming from the riot.

The man was 17 at the time the riot happened at the Waterville youth jail, in which several guards were seriously injured. He was moved to the adult jail in Pictou after being charged for his role in the riot but returned to the youth jail after youth court Judge Anne Derrick said keeping him in a transitional section of adult jail away from other prisoners was a form of “social isolation.”

Another youth was sentenced to 18 months in the youth jail for his part in the riot, while a fourth – who did not throw a punch – was given house arrest for obstruction for not returning to his cell.

Crown attorney Jim Fyfe said after court that while the man’s new youth sentence will put him at the youth jail, he could very well end up in an adult facility by December anyway.

Fyfe said youth are usually transferred to an adult facility from Waterville once they turn 20 years of age, unless the provincial director of corrections agrees that they can stay at the youth jail.

The director had previously ordered that the man should not be in Waterville because of safety concerns and wanted him left at the Pictou Coounty jail but a youth court judge in Halifax disagreed.

The man is also due in court in Pictou next month for sentencing on a charge of assaulting a peace officer. He was charged after punching a guard at the Pictou County jail when he was held there. The guard suffered a concussion in the attack.

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