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Man allegedly involved in Waterville youth centre riot to serve remaining sentence in adult facility

The Nova Scotia Youth Centre in Waterville.
The Nova Scotia Youth Centre in Waterville.

HALIFAX, NS - A man allegedly involved in a riot at the Nova Scotia Youth Facility (NSYF) in Waterville currently being housed at an adult facility has been denied a return to the youth centre.

The offender, who turned 18 before the riot occurred on Sept. 4, 2016, was charged as an adult following the incident. His most recent youth sentence was a 27-month custodial and supervision order imposed in April 2016 for offences including break and enter, personating a peace officer, robbery and unlawful confinement.

It’s alleged that on Sept. 4, 2016, the offender and three other young persons engaged in what was described in a written decision from Judge Anne Derrick as “a targeted attack on staff over a six to seven minute period.”

Testimony from NSYF Acting Deputy Superintendent of Programs James Nickerson at the offender’s transfer hearing in October 2016 indicated that four staff members from the youth centre were still off work indefinitely.

They incurred injuries including broken noses, concussions, bruising and facial injuries. One staff member suffered a cracked orbital bone while another had his teeth dislodged. A fifth staff member who suffered injuries to his neck and hand had returned on light duty.

Nickerson described the incident as “an all-out assault”, the most serious incident at the NSYF in its 29-year history. He said staff at the facility was feeling “a multitude of emotions – anger, anxiety, questions about why it happened.”

Nickerson testified that staff at Waterville is not equipped to deal with a large, aggressive, violent 18-year-old who is unresponsive to the interventions available to deal with his issues and who has become entrenched in negative behaviours.

The custodial portion of the offender’s youth sentence expires in September 2017. After incurring adult charges following the riot, the offender was denied bail and remanded to Burnside.

The Provincial Director applied under the Youth Criminal Justice Act to have the offender serve the remaining portion of his youth sentence at a facility for adults. The offender opposed the transfer application. In January 2017, he was transferred to Northeast Nova.

Up until he was remanded to an adult facility last September, the offender had either been in custody at Waterville or under court-imposed conditions in the community since he was 13 years old.

Defence lawyer Josh Bearden requested a cultural assessment of the offender, who is African Nova Scotian, to help Derrick make a more informed decision. However, Derrick indicated in her written decision that she doesn’t require the assessment and wouldn’t be ordering one. She said the assessment wouldn’t change the evidence she heard about his behaviour in Waterville.

Derrick granted the Provincial Director’s application to have the offender transferred to an adult correctional facility for the remainder of his youth sentence.

“I am persuaded that it is in the public interest to do so,” Derrick said in her written decision. “I see no alternative on the evidence.”

She said that while the offender’s history in the youth criminal justice system and his behaviour over the past six months in Burnside and Northeast is “discouraging”, he is “still young enough to start making the significant changes required to break out of his long pattern of re-offending and re-incarceration.”

Derrick pointed out that even if she were to dismiss the Provincial Director’s transfer application, the offender would remain in an adult institution unless he secures bail on the riot charges.

kstarratt@kingscountynews.ca

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